BROOKSVILLE — With a youthful look, Dianne Shrieves hardly appears ready for retirement after teaching English for 40 years.
In fact, she isn't really ready. But she's retiring anyway.
The 63-year-old Nature Coast Technical High School English teacher helped open the school 10 years ago. Before that, she taught four years at Central High School. She was at Chamberlain High School in Tampa for 22 years, which followed four years at a junior high school in the Panhandle, starting in 1973.
Shrieves is leaving, she explained, because she is in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, a state retirement option, and the time has come. When she signed up for it five years ago, she said, she thought she would be tired and ready when the time came. She's tired, she said, but definitely not ready.
After staying out of the system for a specified amount of time, she does have the option to return, and that is important to her.
"If I didn't think there was a possibility to come back, I'd be devastated," she said.
In the meantime, she has aging parents with whom she wants to spend more time — and grandchildren.
"I'm sure there's tons of stuff at my house that I'd probably need a year to do," she said.
Shrieves' obvious passion for teaching began early.
"My mom was an English teacher, and I saw how fulfilled she was," she said, and that is what Shrieves sought for herself.
She said she found it.
The most fulfilling thing, she said, has been "the relationship with the students, that's where I draw my rewards, my relationships with the kids."
Shrieves pondered how much education has changed during the past 40 years.
"Education kind of goes in cycles," she said.
When she started, she said, parents were more involved, and standards were higher. Then there was an emphasis on testing, and she believes the importance of the testing has gotten out of control.
"They can't enjoy learning," she said of students.
Things are beginning to move in a more positive direction, she said. With Common Core standards, Florida's most recent innovation, "we're moving the bar up."
If it were up to her, she said, "I think I would find a way to minimize the effect of testing. What we're doing right now is very detrimental. The process has become secondary to the product. It's stressful. Everything is geared toward the product, and I think that's sad."
Shrieves has a message for young people considering teaching careers.
"While I hear a lot of my colleagues say that they can't encourage young people to go into the field of education," she said, "if it's a calling, if they're going into it as a passion, then there's no better job in the world."
This summer will seem like life as usual for Shrieves. But come August and the start of a new school year, the feeling likely will be a bit different.
"For 61 years or so, since preschool, every August I've been getting ready for school," she said. "I can't imagine an August when I'm not getting ready for school."