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Retired, again: Cecilia Estrada, retired 2003, San Diego Unified School District

Former administrator enjoyed 16 years with philanthropy.

Cecilia Estrada began her career in 1966 and tried to retire 37 years later. After a quick break, she ended up working for Price Philanthropies in San Diego. Until December, she was still working with students, from preschool to high school—as director of a learning center. Now she’s retired for the second time.

Cecilia Estrada sits outside with greenery behind her. She smiles and has brown hair.
Former administrator Cecilia Estrada has retired for the second time. She has been a CalSTRS member since 1966.

“I’m not going to say that if something comes up that I won’t work again. I love what I do, but retirement is new. I do love to work,” Estrada said.

 Retired, for the second time

After 16 years, Estrada finished her time with Price as director of City Heights Square Learning Center in San Diego. The center ran free Mommy and Me classes and preschool and provided homework help for older students. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her classes shifted to Zoom and attendance finally dwindled. Estrada’s position ended with a party for her students, who got to open Christmas stockings from her.

“It was an amazing opportunity I had. I leave with a heavy heart because I won’t see my kids. I’m very grateful to Price for having me for 16 years. It allowed me to take trips, pay the bills, have extra money. They’re such a wonderful organization.”

How’s retirement so far?

Estrada says her first few weeks of not working have been great. “My husband and I walk every morning. We walk before noon. And if we go around that time, we drive and pick up lunch. It’s one less meal to plan.”

Her husband is still working part-time in sales, so his hours are flexible. The pandemic has changed his work too, so the plan is to wind down for him.

She’s been spending her time on FaceTime with friends and family. The idea of just relaxing and planning to watch a matinee on Netflix didn’t work for them. “We did that once. We’re busy. We have stuff to do.”

Like decluttering the storage room. “It’s keeping me busy. It’s a good feeling, knowing that you’re getting your house in order. Retirement hasn’t been exciting, but it has been really good.”

She and her husband also met with a financial planner to map out the next year. “The good thing about being a teacher is having a pension,” Estrada said.

Once it’s safe to fly, Estrada wants to travel to see her daughters and other family members. A longer-term goal is driving across country to national parks. They originally planned to do it by RV but with parking and the need to have a second vehicle to drive around, it makes more sense to just buy a new car. “We need a retirement present.”

After that, who knows? Maybe they will travel abroad, but right now her focus is getting to see her family.

Teacher Talk is a series of profiles on California teachers and other educators. To be considered for a future profile, please email, with Teacher Talk in the subject line.