Talk about making the grade! When it comes to remarkable teaching careers, Grace Adkins definitely has earned an A+. Grace Adkins began her teaching career when she was just a junior in high school. Now, for her 95th birthday, she has given herself the perfect birthday gift: retirement!
Adkins was first hired in 1976 by Westwood Schools and has also taught at Deerfield Academy. Throughout the decades, Adkins philosophy remained consistent: to ensure that each student received the most effective education by accommodating each student with the tools that would work best for them.
“I never say a child can’t learn. I find out how they learn and I don’t give up,” she says.
Strong Teaching = Successful Students
Her determination and tenacity have paid off for the children who were her students. For example, one former student struggled with ADHD and dyslexia, but Adkins worked hard and created a roadmap for success with him and his parents.
“We had an educational prescription that we filled – and his parents filled at home – and he didn’t give up. His family didn’t give up. And we didn’t give up. And so there he is,” Adkins said. He is now a vascular surgeon.
“And of course, I have many others, too, that you wonder if they’re going to make it. But you keep on working with them every day. And… they make it. Big time!”
Many of her students praised the longtime teacher for her dedication and compassion. One said, “She really truly wants to change students’ lives, and she did,” one of her former students says. “She changed my life.”
Not only will she not be forgotten by her former students, but Adkins legacy will also live on. The Learning Lab that she founded at Westwood Schools will continue under the guidance of other teachers.
On her final day, her Westwood Schools student sang happy birthday to her in honor of her special day. Adkins was so moved by the appreciation and love that the students began to cry.
But just because she’s retiring from teaching, that doesn’t mean that Adkins is going to slow down! She not only gets up at 3am every morning and stays fit by riding her bike for a total of 100 miles a week, she also keeps her mind active by reading up to 40 books a year!
Examples like Adkins’ is another proof why teaching is often ranked as one of the most rewarding professions. There is no greater sense of reward for a teacher than to see their students succeed. Passing on knowledge to the next generation to achieve their goals is truly a fulfilling experience for them. Congratulations on 75 years of giving your students your best!