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The Joy of Teaching Never Gets Old for Remarkable NJ Educator, 102

Youngsters learn how to cook and sew from energetic centenarian they call ‘Granny,’ beloved fixture at school in North Plainfield

She’s been teaching for 24 years – since she was 80 years old. But the 102-year-old who is known to her preschool pupils as “Granny” and is believed to be America’s oldest living active teacher -- isn’t even thinking about retirement.

Agnes Zhelesnik, who celebrates her birthday today, explains: “I just love it here.”

“Here” is The Sundance School in North Plainfield, where she teaches a home economics class for preschoolers and kindergarten students, who learn to cook and sew from Granny and a co-teacher.

The school’s principal, W.J. O’Reilly, stops by just as the centenarian helps a 6-year-old measure a teaspoon of vanilla extract for today’s baking project. Other kids call for help as they try to roll their dough, and “Granny” comes to their aid with the vim and energy of woman half her age.

“This is happiness for me,” she explains, and “I don't get tired when I'm happy.”

Read the full report on this remarkable educator by The Seventy Four, a nonprofit and nonpartisan new site covering American education.

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