Thursday, January 14, 2016

She's only taught 22 years, but....

Agnes Zhelesnik has taught home economics at the Sundance School, a private preschool and elementary school in North Plainfield, NJ, for 22 years. All her students call her "Granny" and here's why. Zhelesnik began teaching when she was 80 years old. Why did this coal miner's daughter wait to long to start her career? Her late husband Joe and she had three children, and he did not approve of her working. So she watched her kids grow up, and then her grandkids, before returning to the classroom. She immediately noticed how schools have changed since she was a child. "We didn't have equipment they have today -- computers, television, inside toilets."

Zhelesnik lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Watchung. At 102, she's an excellent bridge player and reads classic novels. School Principal W. J. O' Reilly says, "Granny is a beam of light." Her kitchen classroom offers refuge from life's storms for young and old. School director Wendy Graham, 45, cherishes each conversation she has with Zhelesnik. "I tell her she's the person I want to be when I grow up."

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