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"I don't call it retiring _ I call it graduation'

Grading papers, rowdy classrooms and parent conferences are over for two North Pinellas teachers. After 34 years each with the school district, Dunedin High School math teacher Curlee Rivers and Largo Middle School history teacher Mac McIntosh put away their grade books Wednesday afternoon.

"I don't call it retiring," McIntosh said, "I call it graduation."

"I don't think I'll really feel the effect of it until August or September," Rivers said.

Both men are 58. Both have master's degrees. They said they plan to travel and enjoy life.

Rivers, who is black, began his teaching career at the former Pinellas High School, which then was the county's all-black high school. He also taught at Dunedin and Safety Harbor middle schools. For the last 20 years, he has been at Dunedin High.

Last year, Rivers had a kidney transplant operation that left him feeling good, he said. After visits with relatives in South Carolina and New York, Rivers said he will sell real estate. He has had a license for several years.

McIntosh has been at Largo Middle School about 12 years. He previously taught at Seminole High School, Dunedin Middle School and Tyrone Junior High.

A Kenny Rogers fan, McIntosh received an autographed picture of the singer at a party the Largo Middle School faculty recently threw in his honor. He plans to travel to North Carolina and Europe, play tennis and fish for trout.

Both men had some last-minute advice for young teachers beginning their careers.

"I'd tell them to be themselves," McIntosh said. "Teach the way you know you can teach. Don't try to be something you're not."

Rivers said he would advise new teachers to "have a lot of empathy. Students come to school with a lot of psychological baggage. It's difficult to teach a child who's having trouble at home. Let the students know you care."