Still Going Strong
Eleanor Bralver may be old, but she's definitely not stale.
The Sylmar High School health teacher turned 90 on Oct. 12, making her the oldest full-time teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Although no national records are kept, she may be the oldest public school teacher in the nation, said Monica Carazo, a spokeswoman for the 747,000-student district.
More than 400 people gathered in the high school auditorium last week to celebrate Ms. Bralver's birthday. Cheerleaders chanted, the marching band played the school fight song, and the choir serenaded her with "Happy Birthday to You" as students presented a cake with 90 candles.
The superintendent of the local district within the LAUSD and a school board member also delivered words of respect.
"Everything was just so awesome," the teacher said. "The sense of appreciation and the fellowship and warmth that I got from so many people—it was awesome."
Ms. Bralver has taught about drugs, sex, and other health topics at the school since 1969, when she relaunched her career after taking a break from teaching to raise her children.
"She makes a real connection at the student level," said Paul Del Rosario, an assistant principal at Sylmar High. "And she teaches more than health. She's able to extend it on a personal level."
The impact Ms. Bralver has had showed in the turnout of former students, including graduates from the 1970s, who joined in the birthday festivities.
"I'm an involved person," she said. "I've been involved in a lot of dramatic experiences with the kids, and sometimes they come when they don't have anyone else to go to."
In addition to teaching, Ms. Bralver wrote Teenagers Inside Out, a collection of student essays published in 1974. She is now working on a book about gangs.
"We're really proud of her," said Mr. Del Rosario. "We know that she's really touched the lives of students."
So is retirement in the future for this accomplished teacher?
"Absolutely not," Ms. Bralver said. "No way."
Vol. 23, Issue 8, Page 3Published in Print: October 22, 2003, as Take Note