Kai Ryssdal: We've been hearing over the past few weeks on this program from some of the thousands of teachers in this country who've been laid off. But a lot of teachers leave the profession voluntarily. Eduardo de Varona came to the United States from Cuba when he was 15-years-old. He eventually found his way to a teaching job at Miami Beach High School. But it took a while to get there.
Eduardo de Varona: My grandfather was a teacher, and my mother was a teacher. I have uncles and great uncles and sisters who are also teachers. I just wanted to do that, but we couldn’t afford it. I got married very young and my wife became a teacher and she earned $7,000 a year at the time in 1975, and the two of us could not be teachers and actually survive and raise a family. So I went into business.
I was an employee for 23 years and manager, and eventually owned my own pest control business and it was pretty successful and I was able to sell it. And with the money I paid for my master’s degree and I became a teacher.
I loved teaching. I loved the contact with the students. I still keep in touch with them. On my Facebook page I have over 500 former students who are friends of mine.
I retired in June of 2010 after 21 years of teaching. I got fed up. We both actually got fed up with the pressure coming from administration, from the state, from the federal level, from everywhere. We can no longer just teach.
We’re lucky enough to have pensions from the state and social security, and we both decided to retire early at 63 years old, and we’re doing just fine. We’re actually pretty well off right now.
Now, I’m having fun. I travel, and wherever I travel I take pictures of nature.
In the first day of October I’m going to be driving to Colorado with the specific purpose of shooting the aspens as they turn into the fall colors. I’ve never seen that. Hopefully I’ll get some really nice shots I’ll be able to print and sell. And if I don’t sell them, I’m still happy.