Longtime Northeast Ohio teacher explains decision to retire early and find new job amid pandemic

Longtime Northeast Ohio teacher explains decision to retire early and find new job amid pandemic

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Educators themselves are making tough decisions, as the school year inches closer.

One long-time preschool teacher tells 19 News she felt that early retirement was the safest option for her family.

However, Valerie Jones is not quite ready to be done working after spending 20-plus years as a preschool teacher.

When she went to look for alternative employment, she says she found a world of opportunity.

“The purpose of early retirement to me was to really try to minimize my exposure to COVID as much as possible,” she said.

She was always planning to work in a classroom until at least age 65.

“COVID came along and it just kind of altered my plan,” she said.

Jones posted to Facebook this summer, asking if any families would be in need of a tutor or nanny who could oversee online schooling.

“That’s how I found my family that I’m going to be starting with in the next week or two,” she said.

She says the Shaker Heights family hired her to care for and teach a 2-year-old and and 4-year-old.

“I will be getting my dose of children in and I’ll be able to utilize the skills that I’ve learned over the years teaching preschool,” Jones said.

Could the career change become a trend?

Jones found experienced teachers like herself are in high demand, and they are able to make the same, if not more money, while also keeping exposure low.

“I tried not to take advantage of that demand, but I think I will do okay for myself,” she said.

She says she knows other teachers who are making the same move as her, but some are ready to get back in the school building.

“It’s really an individual personal decision. I know a lot of teachers that are remaining in the classroom, and I certainly don’t condemn them for that in any way,” she said.

Jones hopes to be in her new position more than just this year, but says she plans to keep up her teaching license too.

“Who knows maybe in a couple years I’ll go back to teaching,” she said.

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