It can be difficult to walk away from one avenue in life and travel down another, especially when expectations are unmet.
Assistant professor of English JoEllen Locher had expectations to fully enjoy the classroom experience at MCCC before retirement at the end of the Winter Semester, but COVID-19 destroyed that opportunity.
“COVID-19 blew it to pieces,” Locher said during a phone interview.
The college is now closed and there is no classroom experience to look forward to. Locher said she likes being in the classroom talking, exchanging ideas and interacting with students.
“I wanted to be in the classroom really badly,” Locher said. “I wanted to enjoy that process. I didn’t want to be so focused on grading but enjoying the classroom experience.”
Locher said she started working when she was 15. Working that young required a permit and a Social Security number, which was not given at birth.
She later went to college to study writing. She was interested in literature, but she knew writing had many job opportunities coming out of college.
Locher graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from Bowling Green State University. She taught at MCCC part-time for 18 years and full time for 22 years.
“It was a hard decision to decide to retire after 40 years,” Locher said.
She said there was a combination of reasons she chose to retire at the end of Winter Semester. After turning 65, she thought 50 years seemed enough time to work. She also said her parents were active at first in their retirement.
But as they got older, they could not do things anymore. She wants to do things now before she gets older.
“There are so many other avenues I want to poke around in,” Locher said.
Before poking around, she joked she wants to get a haircut first. She also wants to attend every sporting event her grand kids are in.
For now, those avenues remain dead ends.
She said she may start poking around in creating a jewelry business.
“It’s relaxing,” Locher said. “I listen to music and put a bead on a wire.”
She said she may start working on writing and publishing again.
Locher wrote for Pearson Publishing Company in the early 2000’s and six of her works were published. She also created training modules for the Michigan State Police and is interested in doing something similar.
Mark Bergmooser, assistant professor of communication, coordinated with Locher on the training modules for the Michigan State Police.
Both worked together on educating law enforcement in technical writing. Bergmooser taught the interpersonal communication aspect as well.
“It was to help police officers understand how important it is in their careers,” Bergmooser said. “It was fun to work with her in that capacity.”
They coordinated on several other projects too. Bergmooser said the Michigan State Police project was the highlight.
“I wish her all the best,” Bergmooser said.
Although Locher will miss teaching, she will not miss the commute to MCCC, including the construction on I-75.
However, she said she did enjoy listening to Il Divo while sitting in traffic in her car.
Over the past 40 years of teaching, Locher said she had no favorite class taught at MCCC or favorite memories.
“They’re all fun in a different way,” Locher said.
She said she enjoyed her Technical Writing classes because she enjoys that type of writing. Her students usually come into class at the beginning of the semester with different notions of what technical writing is.
By the end, they understand it and enjoy that type of writing too.
Locher said she doesn’t have any favorite memories. However, she does have unpleasant memories of teaching grammar, dreading going to the classroom on days she was teaching it. Once in the classroom, she was surprised to find that she connected with her students over commas.
“Adults have more complicated ideas,” Locher said.
She sends a farewell to those adults whom she taught.
“I know how tough it is to get a job out there and the job you want,” Locher said. “I really wish them the best.”