A Seriously Experienced Educator: Brooklyn Math Teacher Turns 100

By Jordan Moeny — October 17, 2014 1 min read
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Here’s some inspiration to round out your week: Madeline Scotto, a math bee coach and former teacher at St. Ephrem School in Brooklyn, celebrated her 100th birthday this Thursday.

Scotto was a member of St. Ephrem’s first graduating class in 1928 but didn’t start teaching until 1954, when her pastor asked for some temporary classroom help. She became a dedicated math teacher a few years later and continued until she started to lose her hearing ten years ago.

Now, as the pre-K-8 school’s math bee coach, she works with students during lunch breaks and recesses. The neighborhood news site DNAinfo New York describes centenarian’s routine:

She climbs the stairs to her classroom, where she works to prepare students for the math bee. She pores over photocopied worksheets with complicated problems, coaching kids on how to stay calm on stage while multiplying and dividing in their head.

Though one of her 3rd graders was a regional finalist last year, Scotto told that she’s happy just to see her students work hard: “I never think of a child as, ‘He was a winner, he was a loser,’” she said. Her only criteria is, “Did he work hard?” also notes that Scotto “dresses impeccably” and walks without a cane specifically so that she has free hands to carry her book bag.

Outside of school, Scotto has five children of her own, nine grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1999.

Despite her age, she “doesn’t consider [herself] a senior citizen.” She describes a century of life as something that “just kind of happened,” saying she didn’t even believe it when she turned 100—at least, not until she did the math.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.