America’s oldest working teacher turns 100

Agnes “Granny” Zhelesnik, believed to be the country’s oldest working teacher, turned 100 on Friday and celebrated, of course, at the private Sundance School in New Jersey with her students.

This story in the Newark Star-Ledger says that the celebration was in the pre K-5 school’s auditorium, which was decorated with pictures of Zhelesnik. Students, faculty and administrators — as well as a few family members — sang “Happy Birthday” to her, and letters from President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were read aloud by the principal, Benjamin Fox.

Zhelesnik was a homemaker until age 81, when she became a full-time home economics teacher and started teaching students how to cook and sew at the North Plainfield school. She’s still there. Why? She likes the kids, she says. There is another attraction at Sundance for her: Her daughter Agnes Arakelian teaches there, as well.

The Star-Ledger quoted her as saying she would have rather celebrated at home, but said:

They did all this, and so I’m going to live with it.

When she turned 99 last year, she said she might retire at 100, but she didn’t announce plans to do that at her birthday party.

Here’s a video of the celebration held last year when she turned 99:

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | January 10