Retirement: What then? What now?

March 6, 2011 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

posted by Linda Levine’ 76, adjunct professor at Bank Street (and so much more)

“What would I do if I retired ? I can’t imagine not being a part of the progressive educational community that’s been the center of my life.”

I’ve heard this so often from friends and colleagues and, of course, wondered about it myself. However, at age 70, after decades of a fully engaged professional life – teaching, advising, consulting, doing administration – I decided to withdraw from contract status at Bank Street.  I continued to teach Foundations as an adjunct member of the Graduate Faculty and created a new course (‘Community-based Action Research’) after I learned about a new BS masters program for educators who work in out-of-school settings.

My commitment to help advance social justice in and through education hadn’t lessened. My energy level was still strong – and I knew I could afford (of course a significant factor) to apply my knowledge and experience on a pro bono basis. So what then? What follows is how I’ve been pursuing this new stage of life.

Working together in the late ‘90s with Fran Barrett, former director of  NYC’s Community Resource Exchange, my late husband Larry Levine had founded a group of senior professionals in a wide range of fields which came to be called – don’t miss the double entendre – “Gray Matters.” As a group, we bring expertise in law, education, architecture, medicine, real estate, marketing, human resources, finance, and more to meet the requests of small community-based organizations asking for help with strategic planning, board recruitment and development, conflict resolution, as well as beneficial expansion and/or collaboration with other CBO’s.

At a time of severe cuts to social services and expanding critical need for such services, Gray Matters continues to provide pro-bono consulting to the city’s non-profit community. For example, we assist Broadway Housing (for formerly homeless families) with their educational programs and development of their newest building which will include a children’s art and storytelling museum; the Educational Video Center – guiding young people to create documentaries on urgent issues in their communities; WE ACT – a Harlem-based advocacy program for environmental justice; PASE – the partnership for after-school education – with marketing and IT assistance; CUNY Law School –  named the #1 public interest law school in the U.S. with their “pipeline for justice” initiative; a Brownsville-based multiservice center – offering medical, social, and prevention services; Legal Outreach – which uses law to motivate young people to continue their education. And this is a small sample.

(For a full list of CBO’s served by Gray Matters, visit our website: graymattersnyc.org.) As one of the organization’s co-leaders, I want to highlight the reciprocal benefits of this work for ourselves as well as the groups we serve. At the same time as we provide much needed services, we’re learning more from CBO’s and each other about ways to address the multiple challenges faced by so many of our fellow citizens. This constant renewal strengthens our dedication to the work!

As a fellow alum, I hope you’ll visit the Gray Matters website – and that it suggests more ways to use what Bank Street has inspired and given to all of us.

Linda Levine has been dedicated to advancing equity and social justice through education for over thirty years. A former professor of special education and museum education, and associate dean of the Graduate Faculty at Bank Street, she was co-founder and first director of the Urban Education Semester – a partnership between Bank Street and the Venture Consortium colleges that affords liberal arts students an introduction to challenges and opportunities in urban teaching. Linda can be reached at llevine@bankstreet.edu.

Entry filed under: collaboration, community, dialogue, equity.

Vote for Catalog Canceling Challenge! Progressive Practices for the College Transition

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