Sixty-year-old Donald G. Simpson, a retired air force lieutenant colonel, says he has a lot to offer the students in his science classes at Sanderson High School in Raleigh, N.C. “I know what to expect from the students because I’ve raised my own family. I think those school teachers who are kids themselves can’t understand their students as well as I can.”

Fifty-seven-year-old Daniel Trollinger, a chemist at General Electric in Columbia, Md., is in the process of getting his teaching certification from Notre Dame University in Baltimore. He says he looks forward to teaching after he retires because he’ll have the opportunity to remain active in his field. And because his house is already paid for and his children have finished their schooling, he says he can manage with the salary cut.

Trollinger and Simpson are among many retired or soon-to-be-retired scientists, engineers and technically trained military personnel who...

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