Beulah Litwiller Gonzalez ’44 is addicted to working with children.
That’s the explanation the 86-year-old Argentine woman gives for why, 26 years after “retirement,” she still volunteers all day, every day in a kindergarten classroom at Chandler Elementary School in Goshen.
Known as abuelita, an affectionate word for “grandma” in Spanish, Gonzalez has worked in schools – paid or unpaid – since 1944. She says she’s not ready for true retirement yet, because she doesn’t know how she’d fill her days other than by knitting and reading.
Gonzalez immigrated to the U.S. to attend Goshen College almost 70 years ago. After that, she worked in a small county school, taught in a children’s home in Fort Wayne and worked in some public schools in Fort Wayne. Even though she retired in 1983, she didn’t stop teaching. “I decided that I wasn’t ready to leave the classroom, so I offered my services as a substitute,” Gonzalez said.
She said she left teaching “for good” in 2000 – a statement that made Chandler principal Lisa Herr Lederach ’79 laugh – but Gonzalez came back to Chandler recently to volunteer from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day. As a volunteer, Gonzalez said she gives one-on-one time with the students who need it, particularly students whose first language is Spanish.
When the school had parent-teacher conferences, she was there until 7:30 p.m.
– By Audrie Garrison, for The Elkhart Truth
To read the full story about Gonzalez, visit: www.etruth.com/Know/News/Story.aspx?id=497351