Rosa Yordan wears many hats. Author, motivational speaker, life and business coach, preacher and “citizen scientist” are some of her titles — all of which she earned after she retired.
The 66-year-old East Meadow resident taught special and general education for 36 years at junior high schools in the New York City school system. She retired in June 2013, and quickly began pursuing other goals, including publishing a book in 2015. Titled, “Re-imagine Your Life: Seven Secrets to Achieve Your Dreams,” the book is part self-help and part memoir.
Now Yordan is preparing to motivate a crowd of philanthropic older adults at the Merrick Golf Clubhouse on Jan. 13, at the annual gala of the nonprofit Loving Hands: Knit and Crochet for Charity.
Loving Hands members knit blankets, hats and other items for charities across Long Island. Each year the organization hosts a gala to celebrate its accomplishments, outline its goals for the year and inspire its members.
Yordan said that the group’s president, Lillianne Sabia, invited her to be its speaker after reading her book. “She wants me to motivate the seniors so they come into the new year with gusto . . . and think about their legacy,” she said.
Yordan lives on her own in the Seasons retirement community in East Meadow, though she has two children from a past marriage. At Lehman College in the Bronx in the 1970s, she earned a degree in speech pathology and audiology, as well as a certification in education and a master’s in special education, with a focus on the emotionally and mentally disabled.
Midway through her career as an educator, Yordan earned a master’s in administration at the Principal’s Institute at the Bank Street College of Education.
She described herself as an “animated” teacher who used to come to class in costume, matching the books and lessons she taught. For a session on the Pythagorean theorem, for example, she wore a toga and a laurel crown.
Yordan lives by the words of the poet and author Maya Angelou: “Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.” Writing her own book was a long-term goal of Yordan’s that she accomplished two years after retiring.
“I wanted to write a book decades ago,” she said, “but when I was younger, I didn’t have anything that I felt was sufficient enough to write pages about.”
She began outlining tips for success, and practiced what she preached. This led her down different paths, like preaching at the United Methodist Church in East Meadow, although she is not an ordained faith leader.
In 2015, the same year that she wrote her book, Yordan launched a business called Transformation+ Inc. Its office in is Rockville Centre, and its mission is similar to the theme of her book: She offers one-on-one assistance to people at the beginning of their careers.
One of her clients was Brian Mowatt, 21, of Westbury, who opened his first business in East Meadow, a raw-juice bar called Organic Living, in October. “She was always there to collaborate with me if there were any issues or I was running into any problems,” Mowatt said. “I really thank her for the support, because we all need support when we’re going into something new.”
In December 2018, Yordan embarked on a trip to Antarctica with Quark Expeditions, a company that invites “citizen scientists” to join professional researchers in explorations of the Earth’s polar regions. Yordan learned a lot about the continent while roaming its icy terrain, spotting penguins and breeching whales. The land was split among 45 nations in 1961, according to the Antarctic Treaty. Roughly 90 percent of the Earth’s fresh water is frozen in the continent’s ice sheet, and the landmass doubles in size each winter, when sea ice accumulates at its shores.
The trip also taught her a lot about the climate crisis, she said, and what she could do to curb its impact — use less hot water, eat less meat and replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs that use less energy.
On Jan. 13, Yordan intends to shares her discoveries with the senior members of Loving Hands, and encourage them to pursue new passions, despite their age or physical limitations. She asks people what they have done for which people will remember them positively.
“What wonderful thing can people say about you when they remember you?” she said. “Whatever it is that you haven’t done, this is the time.”