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Emeriti Sara Mack, George Houston, and Bill West regularly volunteer to read with third-graders at local elementary schools. Below they share their new teaching experiences since retiring from the department.

“What do retired classics professors do?

“Some of them just can’t give up teaching. Three of us have changed course slightly. Instead  of teaching “big people,” we teach “little people” and have all the joy of teaching without the papers and the meetings! It is kind of like the difference between being a parent and being a grandparent. You can have fun with the little ones and then hand them back at the end of your session and leave them in good hands until next week.”


Sara Mack reads with a student.
Sara Mack reads with a student.

I started reading with elementary school students once a week 12 years ago. The only reason  I know it was 12 years ago is because my very first student, then in kindergarten, is about to graduate from high school! Initially I was completely unofficial. I worked with a wonderful  K/1 teacher at Estes, reading one on one with whatever students she thought could use some extra attention. When she transferred  to Rashkis I went along with her and worked there for a year or two. About five years ago I did the Reading Partner training course and am now “official!” I have been at Estes ever since, working mostly with kindergarten and first grade students (my favorites), sometimes with second and third graders, always reading or being read to and talking about books. Who could ask for anything more?

— Sara Mack


I volunteered to work on reading with third-graders in 2006, shortly after I retired and when we still had no grandchildren. (Clearly, I wanted to work with little people one way or another.) We now have grandchildren, but I’m still working with third-graders. In the past, I read with students one-on-one; this year, I help students as they read and write on little computers, of which I am suspicious. (They have a “Friends” feature that distracts the kids.) We also read books, I drill the kids on spelling, and I do whatever I can to help the teacher. All of it is fun, challenging in a gentle way, and deeply rewarding when the kids suddenly catch on to something new.

— George Houston


I have volunteered at Scroggs Elementary School now for five years, one hour a week. The first year I tutored a student individually in Math in the 4th Grade. In the next succeeding years I have assisted Mr. James Nohe in the Fifth Grade, doing whatever seems to be needed, either math, science, or reading. This year and last  I have had my own reading group of 5-6 students. Last semester my group read “Because of Winn-Dixie”; this semester we are reading “Maniac McGee.”

— Bill West