‘America’s Oldest Teacher’ Is Still Working At 102

2 minute read

Agnes Zhelesnik, fondly referred to as “Granny” by her students and coworkers, is widely considered to be America’s oldest schoolteacher. At 102, she still works almost full-time teaching preschool and elementary-aged pupils how to cook and sew.

Zhelesnik, who has been an educator at The Sundance School in North Plainfield, N.J., since she was 81, said she plans to keep teaching her students for as long as possible. “I am going to stay as long as I can, make them happy as good as I can,” she told the Courier News of Bridgewater.

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She also spoke about why she feels home economics skills are so important for children to learn. “This is something that they’re going to use for the rest of their lives,” she told The 74 Million. “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.”

Many of Zhelesnik’s coworkers are inspired by her commitment to education. “She is an icon in this school,” said Principal Benjamin Fox. “Besides the fact that she feeds everyone and makes the school smell wonderful, she just makes everybody smile. They are always hugging her. It’s like a family and she is the granny of our family.”

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com