Like many seniors, Anita Nixon enjoys an active retirement lifestyle plus working part-time.
Anita Nixon fulfilled her childhood dream when she landed her first teaching job at a private school in 1958. Decades later, she hasn't left education even though she has retired. If fact, she's enjoying it now more than ever as an elementary school substitute teacher in Marlboro Township, N.J.
Nixon is a resident of Seabrook, an Erickson Living developed and managed retirement community in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.
"I think, being a substitute teacher, I don't have the pressure of completing lesson plans and having to meet with parents for conferences or diagnosing children who have a learning disability. I go in, and I follow district mandated curricula set out by the teacher," says Nixon, whom the children lovingly refer to as Grandma Nixon; her principal refers to her as "a woman of wisdom."
Nixon is part of a national demographic employment trend. Employment rates for older adults are the highest they've been in 55 years according to recent U.S. job reports.
"I just love being with the children," Nixon says. "I don't do this because I need to do it financially; I do it because I'm motivated."
Teaching, she says, keeps her current. "We have a lot of technology in the classroom, and I find it very important for me to know how to use it. It's great because the kids think they're teaching me something but, P.S., I know how to use the technology," she laughs.
Whether she's helping a seven-year-old use his iPad or an eleven-year-old with a math problem, Nixon says her work brings a sense of purpose to her life, and she believes anyone who can should continue to stay in the workforce at least part time as long as possible.
"I find it enjoyable and very satisfying to have an effect on a child and to know that I touched that child with love," she says. "I enjoy working with special needs children ages 7 to 11, working with resource programs, supplemental programs, or just sitting with the children if they're having difficulty and working side by side with them."
Years of experience have equipped her with techniques, poems, and songs to make learning—and teaching—fun.
Nixon says her lifestyle has enabled her to substitute regularly. She and her husband, Bill, moved to Seabrook in Tinton Falls, not far from Marlboro Township, in March 2015.
"My husband and I are in the most independent living arrangements here. He chooses to get involved with a lot of things here at Seabrook, which frees me up to do something outside of the community," she says.
Aside from substitute teaching, Anita participates in several on-campus activities, as well, such as swimming in the all-season pool, participating on the dining committee, and enjoying her membership in the Roman Catholic community.
"The longer I'm here at Seabrook, the more involved I'm getting," she says.
She and her friend Charlotte recently organized the Retired Teachers at Seabrook. They meet monthly to stay abreast of local, state, and national education issues; to volunteer their time; and, of course, to stay social with like-minded neighbors.
"Our residents are role models in the way they choose to pursue their passion and live active lifestyles," says Seabrook Executive Director Paula Digerness. "Residents like Anita truly love what they are doing, and they are doing it with enthusiasm."
"As retired teachers who choose to do this, we have so much to give because we have spent so many years in the classroom. I'm grateful that Seabrook enables us to stay so involved. I think the lifestyle here is fantastic," says Nixon.
About Seabrook: Seabrook, one of 19 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 98-acre campus in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. The community is located in Monmouth County and is home to more than 1,400 residents. Additional information about Seabrook can be found at SeabrookCommunity.com.
Written by Julia Collins