Margaret Powell is spending her retirement doing what she loves: teaching

Posted at 7:21 AM, Sep 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 13:06:56-05

Most of us would probably choose to spend our retirement sleeping in, traveling or ignoring our to do list.

Margaret Powell prefers to spend her retirement doing what she did before she retired: teaching.

"I really am retired!" she said with a smile. "I'm volunteering here. I'm here most days until the early morning until late in the evening."

She volunteers at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School in West Baltimore, where she retired from in 2016. Before she got into teaching, she spent nearly 30 years as an administrator at Coppin State University. In 2000, she started teaching at Matthew A. Henson ES.

"I just felt like we [Baltimore] needed more people to teach and love the children," she said.

She loved every child who walked through her classroom door in her 16 years of teaching and still loves the kids who attend Matthew Henson today.

Some days, Powell will help out at the front desk. Other days she'll sit in on a classroom so the teacher can do collaboration work. Wherever she is needed, Powell is there to help.

"Its like she forgot she retired, but she didn't forget, this is intentional," said her friend Dr. Wanda McCoy, who teaches at Coppin State.

"If something needs to be done, Margaret finds a way to get it done."

Powell remembers one year having a class of all girls, on purpose, to strengthen their love of math and science.

"I felt that if we had an all girl class that they would see that other girls were achieving in math and they would be able to achieve as well," she said.

"It empowered them. They became super math people. I was very proud of that."

Teaching doesn't stop for Powell when the bell rings. She started a program called Super Scholar Second Saturday, where students would meet on Saturdays to do school work or projects and take trips.

"Parents would come back to pick them up at 12 and I would say 'We're not finished yet, we're not finished yet!'" she recalled.

"They would ask what time do you want us to come back and I would say come back at 1:30 p.m., and they would say we'll come back at three Ms. Powell, we're going to do our laundry."

"It was a safe space for children to learn. We had a lot of fun."

Powell is still involved with the group today and says former students come back to be leaders to the younger kids. They go on field trips to places like D.C. and Philadelphia and go to polling centers on Election Day to learn about the voting process.

She also started a tradition of inviting kids over on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to cook the foods Dr. King would have enjoyed and celebrate his life.

"I think sometimes we don't realize that the school is community and the community is the school, and we all have to work together."

So does Powell plan on slowing down and doing the cliche retirement activities? Probably not.

"I will just keep on volunteering," she said. "Everyday it just gets more exciting and more exciting. I just want to keep doing it and look for more challenges."

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