Good News

Teacher retires on her 95th birthday after teaching for 75 years

“I never say a child can’t learn. I find out how they learn. I don’t give up,” Grace Adkins said.

Grace Adkins.
Lenah Allen via Simplemost

Grace Adkins deserves an A+ for her teaching career. The Georgia educator has been teaching children for more than seven decades. She also happens to read up to 40 books a year, and she rises at 3 a.m. every morning to ride her bike for a total of 100 miles a week!

And, oh yeah, she’s 95 years old. Inspired yet?

Adkins began teaching when she was just a junior in high school. Now, 75 years later, she is ready to enjoy retirement. And she picked the perfect day to retire: Her 95th birthday!

Her students at Westwood Schools sang her happy birthday in honor of her special day. The students’ kindness touched her so much that she struggled to hold back tears.

Adkins was first hired by Westwood Schools in 1976. She also taught at another Georgia school, Deerfield Academy, in Albany. She has a master’s in education from Georgia Southwestern State University.

The motto behind her education principles is simple: You have to meet the child where they are and discover the best way to teach them.

“I never say a child can’t learn. I find out how they learn. I don’t give up,” the nonagenarian told WALB News 10.

Proof of her dedication is in the pudding. One of her former students struggled with ADHD and dyslexia, but Adkins worked resolutely with his parents and came up with a plan to help him succeed. He is now a vascular surgeon.

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“He wrote everything backwards, had ADHD, and 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 in an interview with one of her students, Vicki Davis. “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!"

Although Adkins is retiring, her legacy lives on. The Learning Lab that she founded at Westwood Schools will continue on, under the guidance of other teachers.

Her students praised the longtime teacher for her dedication and compassion.

“She really truly wants to change students’ lives, and she did,” former student Meghan Singleton told WALB News 10. “She changed my life.”

This story was originally published by Bridget Sharkey on