The Adagio of my Life


Having just turned the page to a new chapter of my life this past Monday, I can ruminate on new adventures ahead. I handed over the baton to my successor and trust my students will be in good hands. Letting go is probably more difficult than retiring. I no longer conduct the orchestra or drive the bus. Many loved ones have reminded me of this. And it’s fine with me. I think. I hope. I pray. The noise and pace will lessen over time similar to a rallentando. Now I can savor the moments and listen to the concert of life. At the beginning of my career, the pace was allegro. It has changed to an adagio now. I enjoy the leisurely pace as a bystander and no longer the main conductor. Exit center stage.

What surprised me most was that I no longer have lesson plans to write or parents to contact. I will miss the kids and considered them part of the family. So as I enjoy no alarm clocks and sleeping in until I feel like arising, I will plan and plot things I want to do and when I want to. Maybe go back to school. Life-long learners do things like this. It keeps me alert and alive. Even my wrist watch battery died, and I have not felt compelled to replace it. It’s strangely liberating to not know the precise time every two minutes or so. While I own a new cell phone, it is off most of the time. Yes, I know all the jokes that my family makes about Mom and her cell phone. I was told I needed it in case of emergencies. Not true. I suppose?

The past forty-eight years passed both slowly and quickly. I blinked, and it was done and over. Reflecting on how the tools of the trade changed has been interesting to me. We used mimeograph machines to make worksheets for our students and usually got purple hands in the process. Permit me to mention other tools of the trade and in no certain order: typewriters, reel to reel tape recorders, cassette tape recorders, records, record players, radios, televisions, typewriters, 16 mm movie projectors, slide projectors, giant and slow computers, opaque projectors, chalk, markers on new white boards, DVDs, floppy disks, thumb drives, copiers, digital cameras, Smart Boards, overhead projectors, and video conference machines. These were some of the notable changes I experienced during my career. I took it all in stride because it was supposed to help improve the classroom experience. What never changed is the important fact that a real, live teacher is still needed to teach, guide and answer questions. The human element will always be necessary no matter how many new gadgets appear.

This memorable journey began with university teaching which included interesting classes on Navy bases teaching the SEALS and the UDT officers, at NASA Langley Air Force base teaching scientific and technical German to Ph.D. candidates in engineering and was followed by high school teaching and Fulbright Exchange teaching in Germany. No two moments are ever the same in teaching. There were many translation stints mixed with the teaching assignments. One of my favorite highlights of my career was commencing exchanges with schools in Germany. First with pen pal letters and projects and finally, when technology caught up, with video conferences. These are things one can’t teach in a textbook. Connecting classrooms and letting kids find out that their counterparts across the ocean are just the same as they are. They simply live in different countries and speak different languages.

My retirement came fairly quickly with little time for advance planning. That’s ok too. I have no cravings for parties and gifts and such. What I have always treasured and still love are the handwritten cards, letters and poems which students, parents and colleagues have sent from time to time. I need no fanfare for, you see, I know I always did my best. I consider it a job well done. Now time for a pause and rest. Exit the stage. Out of the sun. Thank you to all my cherished friends, colleagues, students and parents. It has been rewarding. I gave you my all. Pianissimo now. Until next time.

IMG_0579IMG_05782044_062615_sunrise 8.21.15 CRIMG_0582 (2)IMG_0591photo 1  lake park

This entry was posted in adagio, Fulbright to Germany, high school, pen pals, rallentando, retirement, Teaching, technology, university, video conferences and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to The Adagio of my Life

  1. Most people would say congratulations on your retirement. I will say happy new journey! Your past achievements will only guide you on your new venture.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, how wonderful your words are! I like your wishes for a happy new journey. I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store or what beauty to yet behold. I await it all. Continued good fortune to you as well. Thank you.


  2. Matt says:

    Beautifully said.

    I thought the saddest part was the picture of the empty teacher desk/chair, but I realized that the other pictures (flowers, sky) can be viewed as beginnings: the flower just opened and is ready to shine. The sun is rising and a new day dawns. Enjoy your blossoming! Enjoy your new day!

    – Matt

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the comment. The empty room will soon be filled. I see that you discovered the meanings behind the photos. The music terms reflect the adagio or leisurely pace of life I am about to begin and enjoy. Keep reading and commenting. Life is short. Don’t blink or your little ones will be in college! Take pleasure in all facets of life ahead!


  3. Elyse Reine says:

    So begins a new path, enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. oosorio456 says:

    Interesting post today

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Alana says:

    Congrats to you Doctor Niemczura .. So strange to think of that room without you teaching it. We will have to get your Birkenstocks in gold carved above the door ☺️! Wow 48 years .. All the lives you have touched and changed! All the students that look up to you ! Couldn’t have ever asked for a better teacher than you! The best 3 years of German and school in general were spent in that room! With all the greatness you have achieved this is just another chapter of a new beginning for you ! Can’t wait to read about what comes next in your amazing journey! Viel Gluck!! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Alana. Your words have touched me very much. I am honored to have been your German teacher. Life awaits now with new surprises around the corner too. You can keep in touch by reading this blog. I look forward to hearing about your new life adventures too. Deutsch ist wunderbar!


  6. Sourdough Joe says:

    Life is a journey, a book with many chapters. We have been blessed to have had a career as teachers. Those many chapters will give you fond memories forever. Ah, but retirement will give you new opportunities to write many new ones. Enjoy the freedom and I know you will write many new and interesting ones. Best to you in your new adventures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sourdough Joe. I appreciate your words and am enjoying the freedom to which you referred. Life is a winding journey with lots of surprises and treasures along the way. Enjoyed our project together too. All the best.


  7. Sue says:

    So moving! I’m amazed at how you can write about such complex topics and emotions with such clarity. You are a multi-faceted individual and I am so happy that now you will have the time to devote to your many other talents. Thank you for being such a generous colleague. Best wishes for many new journeys. Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sue. I am sincerely touched by your kind words. Sometimes, as a writer, everything seems to click, and the words come out and sometimes, it takes a lifetime of memories to express such feelings. A good journey to you as well this next academic year. You are a treasured colleague and friend. All the best.


  8. Beautiful. I also retired this year from education…I know you are following my writer’s blog but there is also a link there to my retirement blog if you’re interested. It’s a wonderful journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kali Wilson says:

    Happy new beginnings Dr. Niemczura! It has truly been a pleasure being your student these last three years. I’m grateful for all that you’ve taught me; I’ve learned more about the German language and culture, how to become a better communicator and leader, to open myself up to knowledge beyond my everyday life, and how rewarding it is to learn from people and ideas across the world. Thank you for pushing me as a student, teaching us lifetime skills, and your love for teaching and learning. I hope to find a career as successful as yours! Best wishes! 🙂


    • Why, many thanks for your kind words, Kali. Where are you now? I am honored to have been a part of your life as a teacher and would love very much, if you remained in touch with me as well. I remain confident you will go far in life. My greatest wish is for you to find and enjoy your own passion in life. It was so kind of you to write. All the best to you. You can also find me on FB.


  10. semajess2001 says:

    You are such a good writer! So, are you retiring? No way! It’s been a blessing meeting you and being able to learn from you. I know your students and colleagues will miss you tremendously. As you well said, nothing can replace the work of a teacher and I believe you are irreplaceable.
    Well done Mary! Gut gemacht!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the kind words about my writing. Like teaching, I have found that I also have a passion for writing. I will still be around and continue my blog. I shed tears of joy with each note written me. I too shall miss everyone, but life goes on. I appreciate your efforts in writing me to let me know how I have touched your life. Continued success in all your endeavors as well.


  11. semajess2001 says:

    I know your teaching spirit will continue to soar. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet you and work with you.Your writing inspires me to be more invested in my students, It is very rewarding. I wish you nothing but the best, enjoy, travel, and continue writing. Well done Mary!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You have touched me with your kind words. I write from the heart and am glad I have inspired you as well. Teaching is very rewarding and challenging at the same time. Switch gears and sit in nature when things seem to be too much. Learning to remain calm in stressful situations is an effective tool. Finding a balance helps as well. Thank you for the comment.


  12. John says:

    I’ve been meaning to comment here for some time. Congratulations and well done! You’ve shaped many young lives as an educator, more than you’re probably aware, and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for giving me the courage to explore the unknown, to follow my dreams, to be more aware of myself, and most importantly, to be tolerant of others. Though the scientific/logical part of my brain won out in the end, I am glad I at least considered the possibilities of changing courses over the years with your help, at times. You will continue to be a great mentor even though you no longer wear the hat of teacher. That I am sure. I will always love German, and I will always look back fondly of times spent in your classroom. Though I am not sure I will ever get over Christy beating me out for the German award. Ha. She couldn’t string a sentence together in German to save her life. Just kidding Christy! Congratulations again, and I hope you find just as much satisfaction in part 2 of your journey. Keep in touch.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your kind words touched me very much. They were spoken from the heart and reflect the tolerant individual you are. It was an honor to be your teacher and remains an honor to be your mentor. My commitment as a teacher was to give my students the very best I could which meant I was constantly learning new technology, etc. I miss my former students and am always glad that some choose to remain in touch and tell me what is going on in their lives. Choosing that one senior for the wall was always a most difficult task. I am glad you have the maturity to realize that although someone else was selected, you have remained in touch all these years. This speaks volumes! All the best and thank you for writing.


  13. Pingback: Liebster Award | Dr. Mary Ann Niemczura

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