Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light by Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953
Too many great and amazing teachers retire and schools miss out on “low hanging fruit” in advancement for the school. I know when I read of my beloved teachers retiring who have made a lifetime impact upon my life, I have wanted to do something! Too many schools do not give their alumni “something to do” to honor their beloved teachers. I know we can write a letter or could buy bricks or donate to their general fund. What I recommend is attach a very targeted cause and passion of the retiring teacher to the goodwill they are will accumulating. If their passion is art supplies, music arts, special needs youth, continuing education for teachers, strike while the iron is hot. Establish a GoFundMe.com in their honor and heavily promote it to alums. Here is a link to how it works for GoFundMe (By the way, I have absolutely no connection to GoFundMe. I just like how it works.). The GoFundMe can be set up to where all of the funds raised go directly to the school. Set a reasonable goal and have a build up to meet the goal before the teacher retires if possible. Find a champion alumnus who will highly promote it via their own social media channels and challenge their friends to give. Make sure the school promotes it as well on their social media channels to give it legitimacy.
Alumni may be hesitant to give to their alma mater toward children they don’t know (I have my own to raise!) but more likely to give to support the honoring of their dearly beloved teacher. School wins, love is shown to the teacher while they are still living, and a legacy is established. The retired teachers are the emotional link alums have toward their school. On average, they are very underutilized as a goodwill ambassador for the school. When I think of my private school alma maters (Holy Comforter and Maclay), I am reminded of Harriette McCarter, John Burleigh, Rob Webster, Bill Jablon, Kathy Scott, Coach Irvin, and many others. All have retired (some have passed away) but they each had a certain area of passion toward the school. I would be much more willing to give to the school if one of my beloved retired teacher gets the credit and knows of the love there is for them.
Give it a try because you have nothing to lose. No set up costs and you are able to empower your alumni to become a part of a cause they already are passionate about. Younger teachers are encouraged by the respect given to retiring teachers and the retiring teachers are able to “not go gentle into that good night…”