Life after teaching— safaris, grandchildren, and no papers to grade

Gabriella Backus, Online Editor-in-Chief

After a career at Bear Creek that spanned 20 years, and included roles as English department head, Advanced Placement English teacher, swing club advisor, and mentor to many, Lynda Farrar retired in 2016.

Farrar had an extensive career under her belt, including teaching English night classes to failing students before moving on to teach English at her undergrad and graduate alma matters to foreign students in Michigan. She was also a gifted student specialist while living in Arizona.

Farrar moved from teaching at colleges to public schools later in her career.

“I made a big decision to return to public schools from colleges due to a concern to teach my own children,” she said. “I taught all three of my daughters (I never had a chance to teach my son).”

In 1996, Farrar was approached by Bear Creek’s principal at the time, Bob Veith, to teach the school’s academic decathlon, a program after school in which students compete on academic subjects. She began teaching English and eventually became the department head.

Farrar credits her decision to retire to two important issues dear to her heart.

“We have three grandsons,” she said. “I wanted to be a little more involved in their lives. But my most urgent reason was that my mother is 87 and not well and in a care home. I didn’t want the last year of her life to be one where I was to busy with my job to see her.”

Aside from her family, Farrar was concerned about correlation between the workload of being an English teacher and her waning ability to properly grade and critique her students’ papers.

“I didn’t want to be that teacher who didn’t read a paper or got to where I thought my work was careless and get to where I made mistakes,” she said. “I wanted to quite while I could still do 100 percent.”

Besides taking care of her mother and enjoying the company of her grandsons, Farrar is taking advantage of retirement by traveling. Her first trip in July taken on an African safari with her husband. They began their safari experience in Botswana, visiting Chobe National Park, a huge tourist attraction due to the exotic animals who live there and can be viewed up close.

“There are herds and herds of elephants there and we saw some extraordinary things,” Farrar said. “We saw an adolescent elephant try to run off a female lion, and the lion jumped on its back, but the elephant was able to kick the lion off its back and make its escape.”

In Namibia, Farrar had the opportunity to visit African villages on a tour with the Smithsonian. Here, she learned more about their simplistic lifestyle, bought handwoven baskets from the village women, and was humbled by their optimism.

“The native Africans are still behind in education and entering professions and achieving middle-class status, but the people we met were still very inspiring, positive, and hopeful,” Farrar said. “[They were] very proud of the fact that they now have free, fair elections. In spite of the obstacles, there’s still a good deal of optimism.”

Despite being able to freely travel and not having to worry about grading papers, Farrar admits she misses the activity in the classroom and how accepting Bear Creek’s culture is.

“I think BC is a kind of unique place in a number/variety of clubs we have there and the mix of students we have, where people fit in a sport, or a drama production, or some other club activity,” Farrar said. “There’s a wide variety of ways to be accepted and affirmed other than just doing well in school and in class.”