Teacher Sets Record by Teaching for 53 Years
Paul Durietz is a 76-year-old social studies teacher from Illinois. On September 1, he set a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest teaching career. Mr. Durietz has been teaching for 53 years – since he was 23 years old.
Mr. Durietz has known since he was young that he wanted to be a social studies teacher. Social studies is the study of history, and how people, countries, and cultures are connected. Mr. Durietz says he made up his mind about it when he was just 11 years old, mainly because of his love of history.
He became interested in history after hearing stories from his father, who fought in World War II. On his mother’s side of the family, he had connections to a famous person from English history.
Mr. Durietz got his first teaching job at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee, Illinois in 1970. Ever since then, he’s been teaching social studies at the same school. He says he loves sharing his knowledge of history with students. “Teaching is never boring,” he says. “Every day is different.”
Things have changed a lot since he began all those years ago. When he started, the only way to make copies was with a “ditto machine”, which used a stinky, purple ink. Mr. Durietz wrote on a blackboard with chalk, and the students used paper textbooks. These days, he and the students use computers and digital whiteboards.
Though technology has changed a lot since he began teaching, Mr. Durietz says the students are still pretty much the same – except that now they have cell phones.
With or without technology, Mr. Durietz has used creative activities to help his students learn. For example, he has organized virtual field trips, geography contests, and special days about the US Civil War. He has even organized mock (fake) elections at school to help his students learn about politics. He says these activities are some of the ones that he and his students enjoyed most.
For much of his 53 years as a teacher, Mr. Durietz has been in charge of the social studies program at Woodland. In that time, he has helped to guide over 20 other social studies teachers at the school. Mr. Durietz is extremely proud that he has even had students come back and tell him that they became history teachers because of him.
Mr. Durietz wasn’t really trying to set a record. He was just doing what he loved. But his family, friends, and the people he works with encouraged him to apply to Guinness to see if he’d set a record. He had.
Even so, Mr. Durietz has no plans to retire any time soon. He hopes to break his own record. He also hopes to set another record as the teacher who’s worked the longest at the same school.
Mr. Durietz says people who want to be teachers should make sure they are patient with their students. He also encourages them to choose subjects that they care deeply about. “Keep working on what you love to do in life,” he says.