Friday, June 23, 2017



     After 31 years, 23 in the classroom and 8 as a math specialist,  I am retiring from public education.  I've spent them all in the same K-5 elementary school, off the New Jersey Turnpike in East Brunswick, NJ.  Over half my life.  It's where I got my first teaching job, where I met my wife, where I lost my wedding ring on the big playground, where my kids came to visit on Halloween and Field Day and Bring Your Child to Work Day, where I shared all the ups and downs of life, both professional and personal, with my colleagues, where I had the privilege of getting to know so many amazing students and their families. What is a school if not an intersection where lives meet?  What is a school if not a place filled with life, in all its very beautiful, very messy, and very human complexity?
     While I will continue to be active in the world of math education and write about my experiences here at Exit 10A, I'm going to miss my brick and mortar school and the family I found within its walls.  The noise in the all-purpose room during afternoon dismissal, the bustle in the hallways when periods change, the groans when the announcement that, "Recess today will be indoors" broadcasts over the intercom, the faculty room and copy room teacher chatter.  And the small, intimate moments.  The little kindnesses.  The inside jokes. The whispered gossip.  The hushed, secret corner conversations.  The tears and the laughter.  Those are the things that seem to matter most to me now, and I can already hear their echoes.

Goodbye, Room 10A

Goodbye, Chittick School

For all those facing transition, in this season of transition:

We shape our self 
to fit this world
and by the world
are shaped again.
The visible
and the invisible
working together,
in common cause,
to produce 
the miraculous.
I am thinking of the way
the intangible air
passed at speed
round a shaped wing
holds our weight.
So may we, in this life
to those elements
we have yet to see
or imagine,
and look for the true
shape of our own self,
by forming it well
to the great
intangibles about us.


  1. Sorry, happy, curious - so many feels. Peace and blessings upon you in the new walk.

  2. Joe, I count myself blessed to have met and interacted with you over the past few years. I've enjoyed our online exchanges (as well as lurking on your blog), but I've especially enjoyed our few conversations in person. I could hear your voice as I read the post, and that made me smile. I can only imagine all the lives you've touched in your 31 years at the school. Students. Parents. Colleagues. I'll echo John in wishing you well in whatever's next for you.

    1. Thanks Michael. One of my signature memories is of us sitting next to each other at a conference in a session where we were being asked to tackle a problem that was a little beyond my reach. I had no fear whatsoever admitting to you that I was having trouble, and you very patiently and gently led me through a solution path, all along making me feel like I was doing it by myself! Now that I'll have more time to attend conferences, I hope we'll get the chance to spend more time together. Maybe in Atlanta next month? Thanks again!

  3. I look forward to learning about what's next from you and having the opportunity to continue to learn from you. Here's to ongoing new beginnings.

    1. Thanks Marilyn. Your advice and help as I navigated through this transition was invaluable and much appreciated! You continue to be an inspiration and a role model. Enjoy your summer!

  4. Wow - this is a big change for you Joe after 31 years!
    A good poem for the moment - whatever new wind blows, here's to gliding and soaring, and a little swooping too!

    1. Thanks Simon. Teachers I know who've already retired say it won't really hit until September, but it feels pretty strange right now. I'm so thankful for my online community; there's no retiring from the MTBoS!

  5. Congratulations on a meaningful career and all new adventures to come!

  6. New places and new perspectives await! So many of your blog posts and twitter conversations inspired daily change in my classroom. I'm selfishly glad while you are retiring from teaching, you are not retiring from education. Thank you and happy retirement!

    1. Thanks! I feel the same about your posts and conversations. Knowing that I will continue to be a part of the MTBoS made the decision easier, and I have no intention of leaving that!

  7. It must be bittersweet. With 28 years under my belt, I've started considering my options for the future, and I've wondered about how that last classroom clean-out will feel. Best wishes and congratulations to you!

    1. Bittersweet is the perfect word. What really helped was going back last September knowing it would be my last year. I was able to step back and really savor everything and take it all in. For me, that sense of closure was really important. Thanks for your well wishes and best to you. Sounds like you're not too far behind me!