Retired teachers return New mission: With little fanfare, 200 retired educators are again helping city schools.

January 17, 1998

PEOPLE WHO had "served their time" in Baltimore City public schools as teachers, counselors, librarians and principals are doing what they never envisioned when they retired. They are voluntarily returning to those old battlegrounds called classrooms to do whatever they can to help.

The program is called REACT (Retired Educators Advocating Change for Tomorrow). It is a success -- and school board chairman J. Tyson Tildon deserves much of the praise.

Last summer, Mr. Tildon convened a small group of retired teachers, school system staff and community leaders to discuss ways to get retired educators to help ease the teaching load in city schools. Each of the participants was asked to come to the next meeting with three others who might be interested. By the beginning of the school year, there were about 100 retirees in the schools as tutors, library and counseling assistants, classroom aides, etc. That number continues to grow.

Charlene Cooper Boston, an area assistant superintendent who helps coordinate the program, says REACT participants who have been retired for a while are surprised the schools are not as bad as they expected. They have been welcomed by teachers who appreciate the assistance they provide and by students thankful for more individual attention.

Ms. Boston said the system could use at least double the 200 or so retirees who have come back. It usually takes about three weeks to do the necessary background checks, certification verifications and orientation. Participants are paid a stipend of $20 to $25 an hour.

REACT represents the type of common-sense approach to improving Baltimore schools the public expects from the reform process now under way. Many retired people who don't want to work full time are looking for ways to use their skills, while Baltimore teachers need help. Perhaps retired teachers elsewhere in the region will join the effort.

Pub Date: 1/17/98

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