For many, sleeping in on weekdays and watching TV all afternoon sums up the perfect post-retirement lifestyle.
For Willie Fox, that slow pace of life is not even an option.
Fox started as security supervisor at Cherry Creek High School more than 20 years ago, and he's earned every right to revel in restive days and scant responsibilities when he retires at the end of the 2014-15 school year. But that lazy kind of lifestyle holds no appeal for the Chicago native.
Instead, Fox plans on turning his full attention to a life as a professional musician. For Fox, who honed his musical chops as a young man playing and touring in R&B bands, the conclusion of a career in the Cherry Creek School District will serve as the beginning of a full-fledged re-engagement in music.
Specifically, Fox plans on working with his business and creative partner to compose a library of original jingles he hopes to sell to commercial companies.
"I couldn't sit home every day," Fox said from his office in the East Building on the Cherry Creek High School campus. "I promise you, I'm going to wake up and start making phone calls. I'll be setting up appointments to go in and talk to companies and get this music heard."
Fox will shift his full-time focus to music after more than two decades working security at Cherry Creek High School. He came to the post after training directly with the Glendale Police Department and working as a security guard at the now-defunct Celebrity Sports Center. Fox didn't have specific experience working in the high school setting when he arrived at Creek, but he had plenty of support coming in to the new job.
"Being on the streets was a little different than dealing with kids," Fox said. "There was a difference, but in terms of dealing with people, I was prepared. I grew up on the west side of Chicago, and that's what you had to do in those neighborhoods. You had to know how to deal with people."
His natural people skills found a complement in the support and guidance of a staff, a crew that Fox still credits with his initial success.
"The administration here was extremely supportive, and they made it easy for me," Fox said. "I was just very comfortable, and a lot of that has not changed."
But administrators made up only a small fraction of the people Fox interacted with on a daily basis. Cherry Creek High School boasts a student body of thousands, and a major part of Fox's job has been working firsthand with teens. As he looks to kick off the next chapter in his life, Fox says the students at Cherry Creek High School played a big part in making his role meaningful.
"The kids are probably what kept me here," Fox said. "I have kids who were here in 1992, and they'll still email me and come by to visit. These are kids who now have kids. My philosophy for myself and my staff is that our job is to get to know the kids. The job is building the relationships. Once you do that and they (don't) see you as an adversary, they can trust you and give you legitimate information."
On a deeper level, Fox has witnessed countless transformations among the students who call Creek home for four very formative years. He points to the countless cases of students whose lives changed being on campus; students who underwent positive transformations from trouble cases to model students. Fox chalks those evolutions up to the basic nature of the school itself.
"Just off the top of my head, I can think of more than a few kids who come in lost or on the wrong track," Fox said. "But Cherry Creek High School will change you. It just does. Coming from where I came from, it changed me."
There's no comparable school in west Chicago neighborhood where he grew up, Fox is quick to explain. From the sheer size and scale of the school to its overwhelming selection of clubs and activities, Cherry Creek offers a unique experience to its students.
"It still blows me away," he said.
Fox's praise isn't merely theoretical. His daughter attends the school, and she'll go on to earn her diploma after Fox retires in the spring.
He doesn't have any qualms about leaving his 16-year-old daughter in the care of the Cherry Creek staff.
"The name of the game here is education," Fox said. "I'm not just talking the talk. If you know you're working at the best high school in the country, where would you send your daughter? I originally thought I would stay, but I have enough faith in this school and the people that are here that I know they're going to take of her.
"That's just what they do," he added.
It's a sense of security that will leave Fox plenty of time to focus on his music.