As William Friedkin put it to his wife, “You’re flunking retirement!”
Four years ago, Sherry Lansing left her chairmanship post at Paramount to found the Sherry Lansing Foundation, to focus on cancer research. “But then I got pulled,” she says of her early career as a teacher in Watts. “The boomers are redefining aging, and the thing that most of us over 60 want to do is to give back, to teach.”
With no less than two new programs under her foundation umbrella, Lansing gives a very high profile to the cause of retiree mentoring:
EnCorps targets the shortage of math and science teachers, tapping on California companies to train employees to teach in lieu of retirement. “It’s the flip side of Teach for America, which draws on 22-year-olds,” Lansing says.
PrimeTime LAUSD looks to match the special skills of retirees to the specific needs of students in Los Angeles public schools. Lansing refers to them as “skilled volunteers with flexible hours. We’re in 13 schools now.”
Obviously, students are the beneficiaries. But Lansing talks less about them and more about her fellow 60-plus retirees.
“I got fascinated with my demo,” she says. “The generation who went to Sun City doesn’t exist anymore. When I left the movie business, I felt like I’m 21 again, meeting new people. My world got bigger. You have the joy of passing knowledge on so that it continues.”