Los Angeles, CA — Rose Gilbert molded young minds for over six decades.
But last week, at 94 years old, Gilbert decided to retire from the Los Angeles Unified School District after 63 years.
“I’m going to be 95. I looked in the mirror and said, ‘I better do it now before I get too old,'” Gilbert said. “I didn’t want to leave, but I didn’t want to be carried out on a stretcher.”
According to the Huffington Post, Gilbert has been teaching since the 1940s. She took a short break and then returned to the classroom in 1956.
Gilbert joined the staff of Palisades Charter High School in 1961, where she remained a teacher until February 22. Some of her former students now teach at the school.
“She is utterly unique,” said Holly Korbonski, who had Gilbert as her English teacher in 1978. “We’re all sort of bereft, honestly.”
Korbonski also teaches English, with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby being her speciality. Korbonski said Gilbert made custom reading lists for each student, and the classic novel was one of the books she was assigned to read.
“She was prophetic,” Korbonski said. “Her gifts to students continue to grow and magnify through life.”
Gilbert, who calls her students her “bubbelahs” noted the change in students over the decades.
“It’s the entitlement generation,” she observed. “‘I’m entitled to an A, I’m entitled to go to Harvard.’ I think it emanates from their parents.”
Still, Gilbert chose to keep teaching, even after her wealthy husband died in 1987 and left her a fortune. Gilbert has funded scholarships for high school and college students and has donated a small theater, an auditorium, and a pool complex to Palisades Charter.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that it is unclear if Gilbert is the oldest full-time teacher among the more than 3 million across the nation. She does, however, rank among the most senior.