DANVILLE, Va. – Gloria Pritchett has been at CIC Head Start in Danville nearly its entire existence.
"I started when my youngest child was 6 months old," Pritchett said.
That was Oct. 1, 1969. Tuesday was her 50th anniversary at the school.
She started as a parent volunteer before becoming a teacher.
"I enjoy the people I work with and I enjoy being around the children. In a manner of speaking, they keep you young," Pritchett said.
Head Start education manager Jion Word said seeing Pritchett embrace the children's youthfulness is what makes her a joy to work with.
"She keeps us on our toes, dancing, acts silly with us, acts silly with the students," Word said.
Word said Pritchett is great to have around for her experience, too.
"I had a student who needed more support. I asked Mrs. Pritchett, 'Can I put him in your class?' The change in the student has been tremendous. She's just so patient. She knows every trick to get them engaged. She's just herself, genuine. She is Head Start," Word said.
While Pritchett's job is to teach, she's also learned from the children in her half-century at the school.
"You don't know what they've had to go through before they got up to come to school that day. The same way we might have issues before we come in in the morning, try to see them in that respect," Pritchett said.
She doesn't plan to teach forever.
"No, not forever," Pritchett said.
But, she's not ready to say goodby to the classroom just yet.
"I don't plan to retire at the present moment, but who knows what the future might hold," Pritchett said.