Lessons For Life

While most of her students are still hitting the snooze, Ms. Hazel Haley is already at school.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports Haley always gets to her job at Lakeland Senior High early. Early means a quarter to six. And always means — since the Hoover administration.

Haley went to high school at Lakeland and pretty much never, ever, left. She explains, "I could have retired years ago on a pension that was more than my salary. But I said 'No.' I'd work for free."

Haley, who turns 90 this year, teaches English literature. And she refuses to allow the students to be bored by the subject. "I make my kids like Macbeth," she says. "If you don't like Macbeth, I'll kill you."

She's shared that humor and passion with 69 years' worth of graduates. If you were to gather every kid she's ever taught, you could just about fill Lakeland stadium to capacity — twice. Haley figures she's had about 13,000 students.

She's taught three generations of the Sales family.

"Just an excellent teacher," says Grandpa Sales.

"She always had a very disciplined class," says his son.

And his grandson reports, "She's still on the ball."

Are kids different today? Haley says they're not: "No, they're just like they were when Adam and Eve hatched 'em."

Haley never got married, and never had kids of her own. She obviously loves children; she just likes giving them back at the end of the day.

Unfortunately for the next generation, the state of Florida is finally making Haley retire. She admits she can't hear so well anymore, and she wants to travel anyway. So next month will be it.

She says she thinks about that last day, "Every day... but I have had a glorious career and it's time to close the door and move on."

  • John Kreiser

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