We all understand the joy and the challenge as we face transitions in our lives. The first transition we all faced as young children was leaving the comfort and security of our homes to begin school. Some of us had half-day kindergarten while others had a full-day program.

I wonder if in 2021 young children still get a milk break and a nap break. I have forgotten many things from my first year of school but napping and drinking a carton of cold milk are still skills that I use today!

We then had a transition to elementary school. We were at the school for seven plus hours a day. We had recess, school lunch and worked with multiple teachers during the school day. I was in a K-8 school and then transitioned directly to high school in grade nine. In high school we had several teachers. It seemed as though we started to separate based on interest and in some cases luck, now known as ability. In education, the transition to grade nine and the transition from high school to my freshmen year of college were two of the most challenging transitions for me. I especially loved high school and was on my own at the age of 17. I remember feeling excitement and anxious in wondering what my place in the world would be-what would my future be? Where would I land?

I was off to college to pursue a career! I loved helping people. I enjoyed school and sports.

The idea of teaching grew on me my freshmen year. With limited family financial resources, I needed to contribute to my education. So, working during the school year and all summer were essential ingredients. The job of unloading railroad cars all summer at the Super-Value Warehouse was quite challenging in many ways. I knew this was not what I would want to do for the rest of my life. It gave me more incentive to pursue further education and to find a clear pathway to a vocation. In the end, I had reached my goal of finding the right pathway for me which was in education. I worked hard but also had a lot of fun along the way.

Graduating from college is a happy transition because we are going to use our education to follow our future dreams. My first teaching job was in Jackson, Minnesota, teaching at the high school and coaching three sports. I still have my first contract that I signed in the summer of 1976. I was paid $10,200 for teaching and coaching three sports. For me, it was unbelievable that I was getting paid every month to do something I loved to do.

Then, at some point, we have to make the big decision of when to retire from our career life.

Having served in education for 42 years, I wondered what it would be like to start a fall without hearing a school bell and feeling the anxiety of those first few days hoping for a great start to the school year.

The transition from a long-time educator to a retiree has been joyful and one of the best transitions of my life. At first every day felt like a Saturday or I could forget what day of the week it was. My new normal has fallen into place. The alarm clock rarely goes off and having a cup of coffee with my wife Donna in the morning is a great way to start the day.

Our dancing, walking, golfing and traveling have all found a spot in this new transition. My hope and wish is all teachers and students are off to a great start to this school year. I miss you and I hope you leave the light on for me.

Chuck Briscoe, now retired, most recently served as president/principal of Bethlehem Academy in Faribault.

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