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Watch: America's Oldest Teacher Has The Best Advice

On January 12 Agnes Zhelesnik turned 102, making her America’s oldest employed educator.
Known affectionately by her student as “granny”, Ms Zhelesnik’s career as a teacher didn’t begin until she was 80. She teachers cooking and sewing to children from preschool age to Year Five at a private school in New Jersey.
While many US schools have pulled cooking from their curriculum, Ms Zhelesnik has a lot of passion for the subject.

Speaking with education news website The 74 Million, she said, “This is something that they’re going to use for the rest of their lives; they’re not going to have it just for today”.

“You’ll be surprised how they are going to remember it when they get older, or even as a mother.”

The school’s principal W.J. O’Reilly expressed his support for Ms Zhelesnik: “Granny is a beam of light with a gentle strength and warmth that emanates from her at all times.”

“When I see her at nearly 102 with three-year-olds and interacting in this way, I can’t even begin to understand the profundity of that kind of interaction,” he said.

“Some say that the only way the generations get a chance to spend time together is through poverty – people have got to stay together through thick and thin,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“Here we have the luxury of her presence at all times.”

Ms Zhelesnik’s 72-year-old daughter is also a teacher at the school – they travel to the school together every day.

“You have to be happy with what you’re doing and this is happiness for me,” she said.

Watch the video about Agnes Zhelesnik below… she pinpoints the differences in schooling that have occurred over the last century quite beautifully.

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Alana Lowes

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