After 24 years of teaching kindergarten in Yonkers, Irene Bordes will now have more time playing with her granddaughters Charlotte and Samantha. The 66-year-old made the difficult decision to retire just last week.
"Due to the COVID virus, my two grown sons started having conversations with me this summer encouraging me to consider retiring a year early," Bordes said, adding that her age puts her in a more high-risk group. "After much family discussion and much personal soul searching, my heart really told me that this was the time to retire and call an end to my teaching career."
She's not alone. According to the New York State Teachers Retirement System, there is a 20 percent increase this year in teachers calling it quits.
"Just in the past week or so, I know of three people who have just put in their retirement papers," said Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, the president of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers.
Just as there is an increase in the number of teachers applying for retirement, there's a decrease in the number of teachers overall — a shortage that has existed for several years.
"It's concerning that we'll have people retiring and we won't have people going into the profession," said Rosado-Ciriello. Besides health concerns, she adds that the decision by many schools to teach remotely – including the one Bordes' granddaughters attend – is also a factor.
"Our teachers are always trying to learn new ways of teaching and trying to get through to our students, but this is very, very different," Rosado-Ciriello said.
Bordes said she may not completely be done with teaching yet, suggesting she may decide to substitute when the virus eventually subsides or a vaccine comes out. And for now, she intends on helping reinforce what her granddaughters are learning and working on remotely.
"New challenges are coming to me," said Bordes.