When Retirement leads to a New Rewarding Career

May 31, 2023
Violet Friedman.

Violet Friedman shares how her niece brought her into the world of Stoler and how she went from retirement, to substitute, to teacher.

Violet Friedman reading a book to children.

When you get to the age of retirement, you typically think of hobbies to take up or spend more time on; perfecting your golf game, tending to the best garden on the block, or spending your days relaxing by the pool…when I retired, I quickly realized that this kind of retirement was not the life for me. After a few short weeks of reading, catching up with friends, and binging a few too many tv shows I was already bored. My niece, Beth Wise, had been a preschool teacher at the JCC for over a decade at this time, and said if I was bored being retired, I should come in to substitute.

Violet Friedman.

That first day as a substitute was more fun than I expected it to be. The J offers so many opportunities for children to learn, grow, and play. Older children are taught Hebrew and how to make healthy eating choices, they go to swim lessons and have three playgrounds to play on. Seeing the joy in their faces every day as we did each activity was rewarding. Now I’m in the infant/toddler wing and it’s even more fun. The J has so many creative tools and resources for teaching, when we paint we don’t limit the children to using paint brushes, but also offer cotton swabs, feathers, and tooth brushes. If you can hold it in your hand, there’s a chance the kids may paint with it. They learn about the seasons, weather, and anatomy through song and dance, and singing songs with them is amusing, but seeing their little lightbulbs turn on every time they figured something out or learn something new is amazing to see and be a part of.

Violet Friedman.

A month after I started substituting, I found myself so elated in this role that I was eager to start full time. Working at the J was so different from the work life I had known before. I had swapped my high heels for crocs, cold sales calls for circle time songs, and high-pressure lunch meetings for Friday Shabbat sing-a-longs with the kids. Instead of counting down the hours until I could go home for the day, I found myself more excited to go to work. When you walk into the Early Learning Center it’s hard to be in a bad mood. The walls are cheerfully painted and adorned with children’s artwork, and everyone you walk by greets you with a smile.

Violet Friedman.

I work with amazing teachers and we’re truly a team, the comradery is something special that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Sometimes it feels like we don’t even need words to communicate, we just know how to support each other in the moment. Management is also thoughtfully supportive. When I needed time off unexpectedly, they made sure to accommodate me, even if it was more work for them at the time. Dani, the director, always makes the time to attend to the needs of the staff so we can best attend to the children.

Seven years later and I’m just as happy as I was that first day as a substitute teacher. 

Interested in working in our rewarding environment? For more information please visit www.www.jcc.org/early-learning-center-jobs

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