Like every other teacher, Agnes Zhelesnik wakes up in the morning, goes to school, and stands in front of a classroom full of kids. The only difference is she happens to be 99 years old. This makes "Granny," as her students lovingly call her, the oldest teacher in the country.
Zhelesnik teaches children to cook and sew during her home ec class at the Sundance School in North Plainfield, New Jersey. Recently, her students threw her a birthday party to celebrate the big 99. The celebration included student performances, cake, and 99 red balloons.
"Some people are younger than me and they stay home, but I don't have to stay home. I just get up and come here, and the children see me, they want to know what we're making today," Zhelesnik says in the CNN video.
Agnes Zhelesnik at her 99th birthday party. (Photo: CNN/YouTube)
How does Agnes continue to teach at 99 years old? It's because of the kids, she says in the CNN interview. "My advice," she says, "be happy, I guess. Do what you have to do to take care of kids."
After spending 60 years as a homemaker, Agnes began teaching in 1995 at the age of 81. She decided to instruct at The Sundance School, where her 61-year-old daughter also teaches, because they had an opening.
There is speculation Agnes may retire next year at the age of 100, which would see her join Olivia Neubauer in the exclusive centenarian educators club. Neubauer, who passed away in November at the age of 100, had been teaching since 1964.
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Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He’s covered a wide range of topics for TakePart, but is particularly interested in politics and policy. Email Andrew |@natureofdabeast | TakePart.com