There is little doubt that most high school administrators – superintendents, principals, athletic/activity directors and those leading performing arts programs – have extremely busy and hectic schedules. They work long hours including some evenings and perhaps Saturdays.
As much as these individuals have a passion for serving young people, helping colleagues and loving their positions, everyone will face the prospect of concluding their careers. Some will work longer than others, but retirement does loom. Although these leaders can become totally engrossed in their work, everyone must eventually face the retirement question.
Of course, there is caution on the other side of the ledger – don’t wish your life away. A fellow administrator may say, “Oh, I can’t wait to retire.” And this might come from an individual with 10 years or more to go in order to reach the minimum system requirement. There are no guarantees with respect to how long anyone will live. Therefore, try to enjoy every day – even during challenging periods – because you can’t add any to your life. Each day is precious and meant to be lived to its fullest.
Assuming that one has the financial aspects for retirement in order, which would state retirement system, Social Security, perhaps a 403b, an IRA or other forms of investments, there is another extremely important consideration because suddenly there is an abundance of free time, and that is . . . What am I going to do for the rest of my life?
Perhaps sitting on the front porch and watching the world go by might be an option. A few might take this approach, and if this meets their needs fine. For others, they may want something that involves meaning and purpose. Even in retirement, people can still have an impact, or continue to learn and develop. Retirement just means not having to arrive at the office early and staying late every day. Retirement brings a great deal of flexibility and latitude.
Does your retirement plan include any of the following?
Travel – Actuaries and experts in the aging process point out that individuals, even in good health, begin to slow down and do less traveling in later stages of their 70s. Therefore, if you have any interest in seeing or visiting national or foreign sites or designations, don’t postpone these bucket list items. Travel can be an exhilarating opportunity to learn about other areas and cultures.
Volunteer – Giving back to groups or individuals within the community can be an extremely rewarding way to spend time after retirement. By volunteering, you can actually help others, have an impact and provide meaning in your life.
Tutor – While teaching was probably the initial focus in an administrator’s career, tutoring is a great way to continue to help young people to grow and develop. Tutoring is a little more flexible and doesn’t require 60-hour weeks that were needed in teaching. This aspect makes it perfect for a retiree.
Start a business – Some individuals have a hobby or a longstanding interest in a subject or activity and it could be a natural extension to start their own business. With time to devote and a love of and expertise in an area of interest, it is a great way to spend one’s retirement.
Personal enrichment courses – With available unstructured time, a person could learn a language in which he or she is interested and which would be useful in travels. You might want to blog or perhaps write an autobiography – at least for the family to read. Or perhaps, you may want to learn to paint and possibly become the next Grandma Moses. There are a lot of great possibilities.
Reconnect with a neglected hobby – Needless to say, administrators have no real time to devote to photography, cooking, refinishing furniture or any other hobby. Retirement is an opportunity to rediscover and to enjoy these pursuits.
Time with family – Many administrators may have neglected and missed family birthday celebrations, vacations and other events. Retirement is a time to renew and enjoy these important relationships. This aspect could also include watching and developing a bond with your grandchildren, which is a great and amazing gift.
While school administrators want to consider how they are going to spend their time, there are also a few other considerations. For example, do you downsize, relocate or stay put? This can be a major decision. A good way to tackle this process is to first rent in a prospective location for a month or two in both the winter and summer seasons in order to get a more realistic view what life would be like.
Also take into account the ease or difficulty of travel from any new home base for your family to visit or for you to get back to them. In addition, a family member may depend upon you or need your ongoing help. This could be as simple as babysitting or elder care, which would restrict plans for relocation and should be seriously factored into a decision.
Overall, there can be real advantages to retirement. Individuals are free to pursue other interests and avenues and don’t have to do things they don’t like. For that matter, they also don’t have to deal with challenging people that was a part of their everyday existence in athletic administration. Retirement may offer total control perhaps for the first time in your life. One cannot or should not understate this major aspect.
However, to take full advantage of this next exciting stage of life, school administrators need a plan. If an individual fills the hours and days with meaningful activities, it can be the best time of one’s life. You can still grow and have an impact. However, it is important to take time to think about all of the possibilities and challenges. An ill-conceived or haphazard approach may not be the best option.
Dr. David Hoch is a former athletic director at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland (Baltimore County). He assumed this position in 2003 after nine years as director of athletics at Eastern Technological High School in Baltimore County. He has 24 years experience coaching basketball, including 14 years on the collegiate level. Hoch, who has a doctorate in sports management from Temple (Pennsylvania) University, is past president of the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association, and he formerly was president of the Maryland State Coaches Association. He has had more than 630 articles published in professional magazines and journals, as well as two textbook chapters. He is the author of a book entitled Blueprint for Better Coaching. Hoch is a member of the NFHS High School Today Publications Committee.