Teacher Receives Special Retirement Gift After 50 Years of Teaching

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A few months ago, we brought you the inspiring story of Jan “Miss Mac” McEntee, a third grade teacher. In January, former mayor Mike Huether honored her for 50 years of teaching in a surprise ceremony. Now, those 50 years are coming to an end. The 70-year-old teacher is retiring, but not empty-handed. KDLT’s Allison Royal caught up with Miss Mac, who received a surprise once-in-a-lifetime retirement gift.

Miss Mac stepped into a third grade classroom 50 years ago at St Mary School, flowers waiting for her. Ever since, she has lived and breathed teaching.

“Kids have been my life,” said Miss Mac. “I’m not married. I don’t have any kids of my own, so they’ve been my kids.”

Miss Mac says she made a religious promise to teach for 50 years, and now, she’s honored that commitment. Over five decades, she has taught over 2,500 students and learned how to reach and teach them all.

“Let them know that you love them,” said Miss Mac. “You will be able to teach them anything, but if they don’t trust you and know that you love them, they’re not going to learn from you.”

Not every day of teaching cursive or long division has been easy, but she says it’s possible to stay in the same job for 50 years when you love it.

“When a kid gets something that he’s been struggling with for weeks, and finally the light bulb goes on, that’s reward,” said Miss Mac.

However, the day has come to clean out her classroom, book by book. She says the new curriculum is based on technology that’s beyond her years.

“It was hard to throw away part of your life,” said Miss Mac.

However, Miss Mac is not leaving empty-handed. The teacher has never been to the ocean. However, with the help of the St Mary community, that will change. They’re gifting her the trip of a lifetime to an ocean of her choice.

Here’s her advice for the next teacher starting their career:

“You need to cry with kids,” said Miss Mac. “You need to laugh with kids. You know, they need to see that you’re human. If they don’t think you’re human, forget it.”

In some cases, Miss Mac has taught three generations all in the same family. Some of her coworkers are also former students of hers. She says she does not have any concrete plans for retirement nor does she have her vacation to the ocean finalized.

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