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Ovation: America’s Oldest Teacher, Agnes Zhelesnik, Is An Inspiration!

01/15/2016

Americas-Oldest-Teacher-screenshot-The-74When I was in high school, at least one of my teachers had also had my parents in her classroom. I remember her as being very strict and her class quite boring. But mostly I just remember her as being the “old teacher”. My folks thought she was old when they were in her class. I’m sure every school has senior instructors and, naturally, anyone over the age of forty appears to be a fossil to a high school freshmen so it’s not surprising that teachers often appear to be out-of-touch with young people.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Who knows more about young people than their teachers? These are the people who spend time with rooms filled with them every day!

Can you imagine becoming a teacher late in life? After all of your peers have long ago retired?

Agnes Zhelesnik, or “Granny” as she is called by students and teachers alike at the Sundance School in North Plainfield, New Jersey where she began working in 1994 … at the age of 80! … celebrated her 102nd birthday this week! And she’s still teaching classes!

After life as a homemaker, Agnes jumped at the chance to take a job as a sewing and cooking instructor to five- and six-year-olds. Her daughter, an art teacher at the school, first asked her if she’d like to help out in the cafeteria and later, when the cooking class actually needed a teacher, Agnes thought that was the perfect place for her. Over the years she’s sewn colorful aprons for students to keep their clothes clean in the kitchen and has made costumes for their school plays.

“Just be happy with what you’re doing,” Agnes told the education group, The Seventy Four, in the video below. “You have to like what you’re doing.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was quite fortunate to have that old, boring teacher in high school. Looking back, I can imagine that she reinforced ideas my parents had taught me at home in addition to new materials in the classroom. She was probably more lovely than I remember.

At 102, Agnes Zhelesnik is an inspiration to anyone who fears aging. Don’t you just love her?!

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4 Comments
  1. Good for her.
    And great for her students and fellow teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mom permalink

    Absolutely love this ovation

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved seeing Granny. Wow. Still working among the children.

    Like

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