For one teacher, retirement means that the show will literally go on.
An educator in Hillsborough County since 1992, 60-year-old Ellen Kleinschmidt retired from Reddick Elementary in Wimauma on June 7. She was a music teacher there since the school opened five years ago.
"Ellen exemplified the meaning of teaching to the whole child," said J. Thomas Roth, Reddick's principal. "In these days of high stakes testing and measuring students by data, Ellen never let us forget the joy of expression through the arts. Her contributions to our school and community can never be adequately be measured. Her love of not only learning, but her joy for life will be missed."
Originally from Wisconsin, Kleinschmidt spent much of her career as a music teacher in South Shore area schools, including Cypress Creek Elementary in Ruskin and Apollo Beach Elementary.
"We wrote songs, danced and learned about the world through music," she said. "Music days were the best day of the week because we got to sing and play games."
Kleinschmidt was named a Woman of Distinction by the American Association of University Women in February 2013 and Hillsborough County's Teacher of the Year in 2005.
Her talents aren't lost on her peers.
"Ellen delivers a very contagious enthusiasm to everyone around her," said Jonathan McCormick, a colleague at Reddick. "She excites and provokes a love for music in the children she teaches, leaving a lasting impression on all of us."
But leaving her career as an educator will give Kleinschmidt plenty of time to pursue a lifelong passion for the theater. She is the president of the Performing Arts Company in Sun City Center, which produces and performs original musicals at the Rollins Theater.
"There are so many songs to sing, roles to play and words to write through the magic of live theater," she said.
Lorianne De Loreto is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.