DJUSD sees an increase in retirements

PHOTO: There are still more retirements expected in the 2020-2021 school year. Generally, teachers have until June 30 to notify the district but the final number could come as late as August. 

By Lauren Lee, Editor in Chief–

A significant increase in retirements after the 2020-2021 school year strikes the Davis school district. The higher number of retirements is due to a series of factors including age, COVID-19 and distance learning. 

Currently, there are 26 teachers announcing retirement after the 2020-2021 school year. At approximately the same time last year, there were only 8 retirements, according to Davis Joint Unified School District director of personnel services Derek Brothers. Brothers anticipates another five to six more teachers will decide to retire at the end of this year.

According to Brothers, most of these retirements are due to age. However, COVID-19 and distance learning has pushed multiple teachers to choose to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year instead of staying one or two years longer. 

Out of the 26 retirements, Brothers reports that only two teachers claimed that distance learning was the main reason for retirement. 

Across elementary, middle and high school, retiring teachers echo sentiments of exhaustion after working, almost nonstop, from March 2020 until now. 

“I don’t think people realize that teachers have been working since March 13 with very few breaks. A lot of teachers spent a lot of time perfecting this art of distance learning […] After 15 years [of teaching one way], it’s going to be like being a brand new teacher,” Brothers said

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year and over the whole summer, Elementary music teacher Sherie Wall had to create a new system to collect and distribute district-owned instruments elementary school students borrow. Additionally, everyday factors like tuning or holding the instruments are difficult to practice online. 

“I’m retiring because I’m tired […] When COVID happened, I thought ‘Oh my God. I can’t do this. I have to relearn everything’ but I did not feel like I wanted to let my colleagues down. I’d feel like I was just you know, bailing out, leaving them holding the bag with this horrendous situation going on, so I decided to go ahead and do this last year,” Wall said.

This year, Davis High Social Studies teacher Fern O’Brien tried to make the best of distance learning this year and chose to retire this year to spend more time with family.  

“I spend every weekend for hours developing [my] lesson[s]. I still think [my distance learning lessons are] meaningful and thought-provoking, just different. I’m working super hard, and I think all teachers are working harder than they ever have before,” O’Brien said. 

At this point in the school year, most teachers are in the groove of distance learning. The schedule and lessons are already established. Multiple teachers feel that going back to school in person could be a great challenge since it will disrupt their routines. This factor pushed some to retire one or two years earlier than anticipated. 

North Davis Elementary school teacher Kurt Yeaman ultimately decided to retire this year to exit at the same time as his wife. However, he notes that distance learning and COVID were factors. 

“With COVID out there and how schools will be in the next foreseeable future, we didn’t really want to be involved in that as much if we didn’t have to,” Yeaman said. “I would say that COVID pushed me over the edge [… Maybe] I would have thought about it a little more, like staying an extra year. It definitely sealed the deal for me.” 

Holmes Junior High Social Studies teacher Gregg Schwab is retiring to spend more time on his hobbies and passions like traveling or charity work. Schwab mentions that being home all the time will make it harder to go back full time.

“I still like teaching and I want to go out while I still like it. Not burnt out and regretful. Probably this COVID thing pushed it a little bit too […] I still love my colleagues and love the kids,” Schwab said. “Being at home basically since March makes it feel a little bit like you’re already retired.”

Many teachers note that they will miss connections with students and the community after they retire and look forward to spending more time pursuing their interests after a long career teaching countless students in their careers. 

Wall taught in Davis for 21 years, O’Brien taught at DHS for 25 years, Yeaman taught in Davis for 23 years and Schwab taught in Davis for 28 years. 

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