Aquarium volunteer lands at Revere High
Don Pinkerton started his new job as a teacher at Revere High School about a year after he was laid off from a financial services firm.
The 51-year-old Swampscott resident used his time and some well-known local resources to reinvent himself. And today he said he feels fortunate to have weathered a difficult situation.
“I know a lot of people are really struggling, and I have friends who are looking for work, so I know how hard it can be,” he said.
Pinkerton said it was solid support from his family and some money that he had saved up for emergencies that gave him the time to execute a career transition.
There was also a valuable stop at the New England Aquarium.
“It was a great experience,” he said of the days he spent assisting visitors at the bustling Boston institution. “I realized I really like being in a science-oriented environment, and I really enjoyed helping to educate people.”
Pinkerton wasn’t paid for his time, but it was rewarding nonetheless. At the aquarium he realized he could thrive as a science teacher.
Aquarium officials say the past year has brought them a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in new volunteers. In 2009, about 100 more volunteers worked 11,000 more hours than in 2008.
“We have experienced a lot more interest due to the economy,” said Mona Chang, the aquarium’s manager for volunteer programs. “People have more time because many of them have lost their jobs.”
Pinkerton majored in a science in college, then spent 25 years in finance. The December 2008 separation agreement he signed with his former employer prohibits him from speaking about the firm.
“I was happy most days and I was paid well,” he said. “The work was challenging, but it was never really me.”
The layoff was a wake-up call of sorts.
In addition to volunteering at the aquarium, Pinkerton helped out at the Museum of Science, took graduate-level science courses at Salem State College, worked as a substitute teacher and received a state teaching certification.
This past December he landed his dream job, teaching biology at Revere High School.