Dan Retoff: An Inspiration

Alyssa McCauley, IV Leader Staff Writer

Dan Retoff, one of Illinois Valley Community College’s instructors, has devoted years of his life to better our school. Retoff has taught classes in Yoga, Thai Chi, Human Growth and Development, Philosophy of Ethics, and Anatomy.

He holds an associates degree in Science from IVCC, a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from St. Louis University, and a Masters degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University in Chicago.

In 1987, Retoff took a trip to India to study yoga practices and breathing. He traveled to Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is located in Northern India, which is about thirty minutes south of Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, the place where Gautama Buddha first taught Dharma. In the Buddhist teachings, Dharma is described as the right way of living.

While visiting Varanasi, Retoff bought a book called Anapanasati Sutta; a book that teaches the reader about the mindfulness of breathing. He credits this book as being one of the first pieces he studied on breathing.

“Breathing for me is associated with mediation; using the breath enabled me to discover different benefits. Some benefits of breathing well are becoming more calm, and focusing the mind more steadily.”

Illinois Valley Community College student, Colleen Grabow, has learned how to better control her emotional reactions after being instructed by Dan Retoff. Grabow is majoring in applied sciences and therapeutic massage.

Grabow was first introduced to Retoff in massage class when he was invited by instructors to give a breathing lecture. Before being introduced to Retoff, Grabow admits that she was, “prone to reacting in an negative way.” She feels as though her reactions were too expressive and out of control when things would go wrong. “Breathing encouraged me to give pause and react to situations in a calm manner.”

In a group discussion, two massage therapy instructors spoke very highly of Dan Retoff, who they have known for many years. One instructor, Roxanne Cherpeske, met Retoff in 1999 when the massage therapy program opened.

According to Cherpeske, “Dan seems to have evolved over the years. He used to be much more animated, but he has really grown into the buddha-like attitude. Dan is the best teacher that I’ve ever had. He takes suggestion from his students and is always open to new ideas. He made me want to be a better student.”

Massage therapy instructor, Marlene Moshage, also speaks very highly of Retoff’s instruction. Moshage met Retoff in the year 2000 and describes him as having, “A strong sense of integrity. He is very compassionate, and truly cares about the subject he teaches.”

When Moshage was asked how she has been inspired by Retoff she expressed that, “He made me want to succeed, he values each being eternally. He has a fire and passion inside about what he teaches. Over the years he has come to a level of peace within.”