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This post is part of a series sponsored by Fast Company and Catchafire on the future of service in America.
People who are between midlife and old age are looking for another round of service with the same motivations that young people have--to give back, to have an adventure, to acquire experience, and to gain credentials and credibility.
In a turnaround of the old pattern, Paula Lopez Crespin followed in her daughter’s footsteps. After leaving an executive job at a credit union in her fifties, Crespin applied, as her daughter had, to Teach for America, an intensive immersion program designed to help the best and brightest young people become teachers. She was accepted.
Like all TFA recruits, Crespin spent six weeks living in a dorm and working 20-hour days to prepare for her own classroom. “Honestly,” she says, “to live in a dorm room at this age is no picnic. It was like boot camp. You’re in the trenches.” She got up at 6 a.m., taught summer school during the day, took classes at night and did lesson planning into the wee hours.
Today Crespin is teaching math to third graders at the Cole Arts and Science Academy, a charter school in Denver--and loving it.
John Kerr also found his way to an encore career in public service via a passage aimed at younger people. And he, too, followed in his daughter’s footsteps.
At 65, Kerr retired from WGBH in Boston. With encouragement from his daughter, a forestry school graduate and founding director of Gray Is Green, a group designed to encourage sustainable retirement communities, Kerr headed to Wyoming with the goal of working in the national parks.
To realize his dream, Kerr joined the Student Conservation Association’s internship program designed for people just like him. Well, just like him, but almost a half century younger. Everyone else was about 19.
Today Kerr is a...