Retired? No Way
By Ralph Burke
(left as Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources in 2000)
At the request of the REF
Newsletter news staff I am sharing a few activities that have captured my attention following 40 years of employment in Fairfield, the last 24 in Personnel. Notice I am very careful not to say retired.
In the spring of 2001, following my
departure from the school district (June 2000), I was engaged as the Interim Executive Director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators. This came about because of the release of the contracted Executive Director. Having
served for 9 years on the governing board of this national organization, as well as been elected its president for the year 1993-94, I felt comfortable with this position. All tasks for handling a 3000 member national organization were undertaken. I
worked with a Board of Directors that included a young and up and coming CT colleague (Some 10 years later Dr. David Title was appointed as Fairfield’s Superintendent). Daily communications with association members and other national organizations, publishing
a monthly magazine, organizing several national staff development seminars for the HR Directors and coordinating their national annual meeting, were just some of my day to day activities. With laptop under arm, I would fly back and forth between CT and
Virginia Beach where the office was located. I spent three or four days at the office and then back home for maybe a week or two working electronically. Naturally, another task was running the national search for a replacement Director. Once selected,
I turned the key. Now it was time, after a little over a year, to be home for what some might call retirement and playing in the garden.
However, the phone rang again. It was the Greenwich Superintendent seeking an Interim Assistant Superintendent
for Personnel. After some dialogue, I agreed to become a commuter. With the Central Office being located only a couple of blocks up the street from the Greenwich RR station, I often took the train from Fairfield. When needing my car to travel
to buildings for various reasons, I would depart about 6:30AM to avoid some of the daily traffic on I-95. This was about a year assignment but the commuting experience was a new and interesting happening as was working in Greenwich. Assignment
tasks included staffing both classrooms and administrative vacancies, negotiating contracts with several unions, grievance hearings, attending Board of Education, Town Council, cabinet and administrative meetings and counseling/advising staff on a variety
With national connections, I was also engaged by a software company which provides technology assistance to school district HR Offices. This didn’t require my donning a shirt and tie nor did it require punching a clock but only being
available to assist when needed. I made a number of presentations to various school districts and also served on several HR Office audits. All of this experience gave me a broader perspective by observing different operations and philosophies while
at the same time helping many Human Resource staff and their districts. I have also been invited by districts to conduct an assessment of their Human Resource operation outside of this company.
Several years before leaving the Fairfield
district I, along with a group of Fairfield County Personnel administrators, organized an annual Fairfield County Educator Recruitment Fair. It grew in size and organizational needs. The local CES agency assumed the Fair and then engaged me to
manage and run the annual event. Now into its 15th year, it has been held annually in the spring at the Roger Ludlowe Middle School where each year about 16 to slightly over 20 local school districts, placement agencies and local universities,
who market their graduate programs, gather. Some 1,000 candidates enjoy this “one-stop-shopping” approach where they can explore directly many districts on one visit. It also allows a school district to greet and meet many prospective
candidates, without significant travel expense, from some 20 different states which participate each year. Considered one of the largest fairs nationally, when the day is completed, a district may have conducted some 250 interviews.
I are still living in our Fairfield home and really haven’t considered moving. How can one beat Fairfield? Our children, spouses and 7 grandchildren relish coming home to visit, gather for occasions and certainly to celebrate the holidays.
We have enjoyed traveling to Hawaii, a land and sea excursion in Alaska, Italy, several visits to Ireland and will depart at the end of September in time for a foliage drive through Vermont with an overnight stop, before a three day visit to Quebec and then
down to Montreal for three additional days and, then, who knows where on our way home. There have been the usual volunteer activities with much time devoted to our church. With five children scattered around the country, the next call
could be a sitting assignment for one or more of our grandchildren. So, if retirement is considered a withdrawal from one’s active life – I yet to have reached that state.