New Jersey Woman Starts Her 49th Year Teaching

Bessie Ames was celebrated inside her urban New Jersey school as she celebrates her 49th year of teaching.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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The modern teacher doesn’t appear to be making it long in the classroom. There is a massive teacher shortage wreaking havoc on schools all across the nation. Much of the exodus from the field is believed to be due to educators that are seeking better-paying jobs with less stress. But through the growing, contentious fight over public education, Bessie Ames has persevered through the thick of it, as she begins her 49th year teaching in the classroom.

This past Wednesday morning, New Jersey teacher Bessie Ames headed back to school at P.S. 10 in Paterson to welcome the faces of her new students on the day that marks nearly half a century of her shaping young minds for the future. According to reports from Fox5NY, Ames insinuated that it’s the children that give her the motivation to remain teaching after so long. “I always try to motivate each and every student — I look for the key to get them to learn and I try very hard to understand each and every student in my room,” she said at a recent ceremony honoring her life-long service. 

Bessie Ames began her journey as an educator in 1974. In the beginning, she taught fifth grade inside of P.S. 6. She remained in that role for 36 years. Since then, she has taught third-grade science and social studies to children in nearby school 10. 

It was unbeknownst to Bessie Ames just how long she truly had been teaching young children. Showing just how much she must have enjoyed her job, she noted that she didn’t even realize it had been 49 years until she was told by her school principal that she was going to be honored by the district. “Wow, it’s been that long,” she exclaimed, adding that she had enjoyed “every moment” of it. 

Bessie Ames wasn’t just greeted with children’s smiling faces on the first day of school this year. The district’s superintendent, Eileen Shafer, showed up to present her with a certificate of commendation. It noted that Ames was the area’s longest-serving educator. 

The superintendent praised the teacher and her hard work over the decades. She described Bessie Ames as being passionate and loving of her students. Additionally, she noted how important this type of affection for young children can be and the impact it has on their education, especially in urban areas like Paterson. 

Not many teachers make it as long as Bessie Ames. While her record is impressive, she comes nowhere close to the holder of a Guinness World Record for the longest career as a teacher. Medarda de Jesus Leon de Uzcategui taught children in Venezuela for 87 years. But considering most new teachers leave the profession within the first five years, this New Jersey educator’s feat is most impressive. 

bessie ames

Bessie Ames has spent at least 8,700 days of her life working with children inside the classroom. Her dedication and determination to educate young students is admirable and serves as a valuable lesson for those looking to enter the profession today. The job is not an easy one, and oftentimes it goes unrecognized and underprivileged. But overall, teachers Like Ms. Ames that are truly dedicated to the children deserve all the attention and applause they can get.