Americas Oldest Teacher screenshot The 74

Doctors told her she has the heart a 40-year-old woman, but America’s oldest teacher is as happy as a frisky teenager.

Agnes Zhelesnik, or ‘Granny’ as she is called by students and teachers alike, turns 102 years old today. She didn’t even start working at the Sundance School in New Jersey until she was 80.

After her life as a homemaker, Agnes jumped at the chance to take a job as a sewing and cooking instructor to five and six-year-olds.


Her daughter, who works as an art teacher at the school, first asked in the 1990s if she wanted to help out in the cafeteria. Later, when the cooking class actually needed a teacher, Agnes recalls being very excited.

“That was the perfect place for me.”

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She’s sewn colorful aprons for all her kids to keep their clothes clean in the kitchen, and has even made costumes for their school plays.

“I enjoy that, especially seeing all the kids on stage dressed up in what I made.”

Although she is called Granny, Principal W.J. O’Reilly calls her “a beam of light.”

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The lesson Agnes has for anyone studying how to live beyond 100 is pretty simple.

“Just be happy with what you’re doing,” Agnes told an education group, The Seventy Four, in the video below. “This is happiness to me.”

(MEET Granny in the video below, from The Seventy Four)

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