Part VIII: Meet Susan Baker

By: Megan Landisch
Spring 2015 Communications Intern
Senior majoring in advertising

Aging Successfully -Susan

Susan Baker retired in 2010 after immersing herself in the world of education in the Milwaukee area for over 30 years. She has taught all different types of students. She has lectured at universities, like Mount Mary and MATC. She’s worked with both elementary and high school students. Sue finished the last 11 years of her career teaching reading to middle school students. She earned her Master’s degree in Special Education through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Her involvement in education did not end when she retired. Sue’s passion for education and helping the youth of Milwaukee continues today, as she is a part-time instructional coach for new teachers at Messmer Prep, a feeder school for Messmer High School located on the north side of Milwaukee. She works with new teachers in order to better prepare them for teaching students with various behavioral, physical, and socio-economic backgrounds. Not only does she work with the teachers, but she also works directly with students, providing reading and special education instruction. She works half-days about 2-3 times a week, which allows her to still have ample free time to enjoy her retirement while still involving herself in something she loves.

When Sue is not working with students, she is out trying new things and loving every minute of it. She takes art classes in the Third Ward. She has voice lessons once a week and she works out with a personal trainer at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. She has stayed involved in book clubs and staying in touch with old and new friends. For Sue, “it’s all about enjoying the little things and having fun with life.”

Sue also became part of a very exciting project at the Luther Manor, where her mother resided. She worked with The Penelope Project, which is a MPTV documentary series that is a collaborative effort to dramatically raise the bar on activities in long-term care facilities. “Using the story of Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey, our team of staff, residents, artists, and students engaged in a long term care community of learning and creativity…Discussion groups, movement exercises, visual art, stories, and music all emerged from this multi-year project that culminated in the performance of FINDING PENEOLOPE.” Sue participated in the activities and spoke in the documentary about long-term care, her mother, and the value of creative activities for the aging brain. Her mother also appeared in the documentary and was an actor for the play portion of the Penelope Project. Sue was happy to share how “all the residents really lit up when they were participating and filming. It gave residents who were more active a chance to get really creative and have fun, and for residents who didn’t participate due to mobility or other issues, they got to experience the project first hand- as it traveled throughout the Luther Manor so that each resident could view and partake in it.

The documentary will be shown on public television stations around the United States throughout the month of May. UWM professors and students, along with residents of the Luther Manor, actors, singers, dancers and other community members all partook in the documentary. To learn more about the Penelope Project, visit www.thepenelopeproject.com.