91-year-old calculus teacher connects with students using tried and true old-school methods
"If I had a wife, she'd probably leave me within a week. I mean I'm sitting there working all night trying to grade papers. Don't have time to run around."
There are some people who work well beyond retirement simply because they enjoy working. While many people look forward to retiring, not everyone is content sitting at home or spending much time traveling around the world. In fact, my own grandfather was one of those people who worked beyond retirement, ran five miles a day and boxed until he was well into his 70s.
But Lou Kokonis has surpassed people working into their 70s and even 80s. Kokonis is 91 and still working at the same high school in Virginia that he's been teaching at since 1959. We're not talking about coming in for an hour or so a day to teach a class and then going home to nap. The math teacher has a full class load, rolling in every morning before most other teachers arrive and staying up into the night to grade assignments.
Kokonis is the real deal, and while his handwriting may be a little shakier, his mind is still as sharp as ever. What's even more remarkable than his continuing to work into his 90s is the fact that he's able to build genuine connections with his students regardless of the multigenerational age gap.
Mr. Kokonis told CBS Mornings that he believes he is able to reach his students because he still offers free Saturday tutoring just like he always did. Turns out, his early arrivals and work on Saturdays are what helps keeps his students engaged, though he admitted cell phones are a challenge.
Of course, in the late 1950s, he didn't have to compete with cell phones or learn to use computers or Promethean boards, but then again, we also didn't have 50 states. In his 60-plus years of teaching, he has been a witness to ever-advancing technology in the classroom firsthand.
"To be working and teaching this long and to still like put in all this extra effort on Saturdays, I really admire that about him," Mohamed Eltireke, a student at the high school, told CBS Mornings.
At a time when there's a national teacher shortage, Mr. Kokonis is filling a vital role, and while one of the students he taught has already become a teacher and retired himself, Kokonis has no plans to do the same. He plans to finish out the year and says, "My mind is set that I'm going to do well this year and I'm going to enjoy it, and I'm going to try to come next year if they'll take me."
See Mr. Kokonis in action below: