Redefining Retirement – Jay Rehak – Living Life with Vision and Laughter

Redefining Retirement

Former CPS teacher, CTPF Past President, and Trustee Jay Rehak retired after an illustrious 34-year career. Day one of retirement he jumped right into projects that he always wanted to get to but could not find the time.  

During his teaching years, Jay authored the hit book series, Sideline, the story of a 12-year-old entrepreneur who helps her dysfunctional family survive. He also wrote 27 short plays and authored or co-authored 10 novels. In 2013, he created and co-authored the award-winning 30 Days to Empathy, the world’s first high school class sourced novel. His book How to Write a Class Sourced Novel is widely used in high schools throughout the United States and his TedX Talk on the subject of creating empathy through collaborative writing can be seen here.

Jay is full of vision and creativity. As he headed for retirement, he commented, “I thought about what I find personally fulfilling and how I could continue to make my ideas a reality.”  He suggests that the time to start thinking about how you want to live when you retire is before you make that transition. He says, “while everyone needs to go down their path, start by thinking about what’s next and then actualize what you can do.” Specifically, Jay is turning his website into an easy-to-use app. is a site that allows visitors to record their laughter or the laughter of someone they love –a baby, child, best friend, elderly parent, and more. The service is free to use and is available for recording historically important laughter.  The concept of was born thanks to Jay’s beloved 81-year-old mother-in-law who had a phenomenal laugh. He knew that he would want to preserve it. He recorded his mother-in-law’s laugh and shared his concept for a website with friends, family, and colleagues. Step by step (the same way he encouraged his students to approach projects), his website was born. The project continues to grow as he incorporates it into his other projects, posts about it on social media, cross-references it on his podcast Tell Me What Happened, and encourages everyone near and far to take a moment to add a recording.

When Jay isn’t spreading the joy of laughter, he spends quality time with his wife, award-winning children’s singer, Susan Salidor and his three children, Hope, Hannah, and Ali. Jay said, “While I will always be grateful for the time I had working with students, retirement allows me the opportunity to spend time with the people I love and work on my projects.”