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Stranger than Fiction: Teacher Retires At 94
posted by: Ruthie | March 05, 2013, 06:50 PM   

Ms. Rose Gilbert, a 94-year-old Los Angeles resident, just recently retired from teaching after 63 years of service. While she has not been officially named the country's oldest teacher, she certainly ranks among the most senior.

"I'm going to be 95. I looked in the mirror and said, 'I better do it now before I get too old,'" Ms. Gilbert highlighted in an interview. "I didn't want to leave, but I didn't want to be carried out on a stretcher. "

Ms. Gilbert's teaching career began in the 1940's, spanning every major event from World War II to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She maintains that her fondest memories are from the 1960's, when her and her students were interested in social issues and U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Now an English teacher herself, former student Holly Korbonski remembers being in Ms. Gilbert's classroom, "She is utterly unique," said Ms. Korbonski as she explained how Ms. Gilbert customized reading plans for each student. Ms. Gilbert assigned "The Great Gatsby" to her in 1978. The F. Scott Fitzgerald novel is now Ms. Korbonski's specialty in her own English classes.

Upon her exit from the classroom, Ms. Gilbert calls today's students the "entitlement generation" saying students are much more self-centered. Yet, her love for students is the sole reason she remained in the classroom for over half a century. Ms. Gilbert is an heiress and could have easily hung up her teaching hat years ago.

Investing her time, energy, and resources into students, Gilbert has donated money to scholarships, a pool complex, auditorium, and small theater in her high school. She is also an avid basketball fan and doesn't miss a chance to cheer on her favorite teams.

Even in retirement, Gilbert plans to volunteer at a health clinic and a domestic violence shelter, as well as use her extensive experience teaching to interview candidates for high school and college scholarship programs.

"I have loads of energy," Gilbert said. "I want to devote it to a good cause."

Congratulations to Ms. Gilbert! All educators can learn from her commitment to teaching.

What teachers have inspired you?
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