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Letters - November 2010

More Feedback on “Giving Back”

A letter in the September issue [“Choose Your Words Carefully”] criticized teachers for using the term “giving back” when speaking of their volunteerism. I admit it’s a curious phrase, because teachers “give” throughout their teaching careers. But what caught my attention was the author’s negative view of how teachers are treated—“like factory hands, animated instruments.” Most educators, retired or not, are well-respected members of their communities. It saddens me that some have had such a dismal career experience.

M. T. V., Greentown, Pennsylvania

I, for one, will always use the words “giving back” to describe what I owe the community where I lived and worked for most of my 40-year career. San Gabriel was a great place to teach. The community paid my salary, supported me in the classroom, and provided friendships I will cherish for the rest of my life. Public education may leave something to be desired, but local communities are not to blame. We are in this together. When my husband passed away recently, my family chose La Casa de San Gabriel, our community center, to receive donations in his memory. It was comforting to be able to give back to my community.

Connie Rothstein, Glendora, California

“Giving back” in retirement has nothing to do with your wealth or “gratitude” for your career. It simply means that now is the time to “give back” to family, friends, community, church, political organizations, etc., because you likely had to shortchange these facets of your life when you were working. The happiest retirees I know (both educators and non-educators) are those who are so busy “giving back” that they have no empty dates on their calendars!

  D. C., Fowler, Indiana


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