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Substitute teacher has ‘so much to give’

Seabrook’s Anita Nixon enjoys an active retirement lifestyle and working part time

Created date

May 9th, 2018
Anita Nixon and her neighbors founded Retired Teachers at Seabrook, an organization that stays abreast of current educational issues and volunteers their time for education causes.

Anita Nixon and her neighbors founded Retired Teachers at Seabrook, an organization that stays abreast of current educational issues and volunteers their time for education causes.

As a young girl, Anita Nixon would set her dolls up at tiny make-believe desks and teach them reading and math from the front of a “classroom” in her childhood home. Her sister would tend to the dolls’ wounds and illnesses. 

True to form, Anita’s sister became a nurse and Anita became a teacher, landing her first job at a private school in 1958. Decades later, Anita hasn’t left education, although she has retired. If fact, she’s enjoying it now more than ever as an elementary school substitute teacher in Marlboro Township, N.J.

“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 Anita, whom the children lovingly refer to as Grandma Nixon and her principal refers to as “a woman of wisdom.”

“I have the patience to work with them, and I enjoy the routine of being in the classroom,” Anita says.

Motivated to make a difference

Teaching, she says, keeps her current. “We have a lot of technology in the classroom, and I find it very important for me to learn 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, Anita says her work brings a sense of purpose to her life, and she believes anyone who can should continue to stay in the workforce part time in retirement.

“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.

“I just love being with the children,” she says. “I don’t do this because I need it financially; I do it because I’m motivated.”

Ideal lifestyle

Anita says her lifestyle has enabled her to substitute regularly. She and her husband Bill moved to Seabrook, an Erickson Living community 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 the book club, swimming in the all-season pool, the dining committee, and the Roman Catholic community.

“The longer I’m here at Seabrook, the more involved I’m getting,” she says.

She and her neighbor Charlotte recently organized 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.

One of the issues currently on their minds is the amount of testing conducted in schools today. “We are mindful of the actuality of what happens in the classroom. Sometimes in the political situation, there are people who think they know what’s best, yet they’ve never spent a minute in the classroom. We are interested in learning about these issues,” Anita says.

The group also plans to get involved with an organization to help sort school supplies in August.

“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.”