New Jersey resident, Agnes Zhelesnik proves not only the adage that you never too old to learn, she also shows that one can never be too old to teach. America’s oldest teacher is still going strong, and on Sunday she will turn 100 years young.
Working as the home economics teacher at the Sundance grade school located in North Plainfield, N.J., Zhelesnik is well known and loved by the children, who call her “Granny.”
In an interview with CBS News she told them, “See my two legs? They still move.” And move they do. Zhelesnik still puts in a full day’s teaching every week from Monday to Friday. She reckons she hasn’t gotten tired out yet, as she apparently has not been doing the job for very long.
She was reportedly a housewife and homemaker for most of her life up until taking the job. Zhelesnik says that her husband didn’t approve of her working and that he wanted her to stay at home and watch the children. Which is just what Zhelesnik did.
First she watched her own children. This was then followed by her looking after the grandchildren. Once that stint was over, she says she played a lot of bridge, which got boring pretty soon.
She says she still felt so young and at the ripe age of 81, she decided to go and get a job, and is still working at the grade school to this day.
Apparently since she turned 98, she hasn’t even called in sick and is completely devoted to the kids at the New Jersey school. She hasn’t looked back, is still going strong, and is now America’s oldest teacher at 100 years of age.
One of her students said of Zhelesnik, “I just think she loves the children,” adding that, “She puts the love into her cooking.”
When the same student was asked if you can taste the love, they said, no, you can’t taste the love, but you can feel it. This seems to apply to all her students.
According to Zhelesnik herself, working with the kids is actually the fun part. She says they are great to be with and also said that they enjoyed the food she makes, adding:
“I always cook with all-natural ingredients and I try to make things healthy for the children. I think the most important thing I can teach them is about nutrition and how to take care of their bodies.”
When one little girl was asked how old Zhelesnik is, she said, “Very, very, very, very old.”
Not only does Zhelesnik love the children, but according to yet another student, all the children love her back.
They say she is so compassionate and so nice to them all.
According to the school’s principal, Benjamin Fox, Zhelesnik is an icon to the school. Apparently besides the fact that her food tastes amazing and makes the school smell so wonderful, she also makes everyone smile.
Fox said they are always hugging her, just like it’s a family and she is the granny.
Over the weekend the kids threw a great big birthday party for Zhelesnik. Despite her great age, Zhelesnik stressed that she was be back to work on Monday and hopes to carry on for many years to come.
She did say that it had been on her mind to retire at the age of 100, but since then has changed her mind and told the media that the children themselves have to grow up to turn a hundred first.
The birthday party was held in the school gymnasium and attended by the children, plus Zhelesnik, one of her own daughters, a granddaughter and even a great-granddaughter.
Much cake was eaten by all and everyone enjoyed a performance of The Little Mermaid Jr. by a young actor called Lucas Schultz, reportedly a previous student of the New Jersey school. Apparently the production is one of Zhelesnik’s favorites and the cast even wore some costumes she had made for them.
When asked what else there is in life, Zhelesnik said firmly that children “make the whole world” and keep you young. She said that America’s oldest teacher will still be going strong and working at the school in New Jersey indefinitely, despite her 100 years.
By Anne Sewell
Courier Post Online