Lois Mann’s 50-year anniversary brought together nearly 100 of her past and present students and co-workers.

Lois Mann’s 50-year anniversary brought together nearly 100 of her past and present students and co-workers.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Royal Oak community celebrates Oak Ridge teacher’s 50 years of kindergarten classes

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published May 20, 2024

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ROYAL OAK — Lois Mann, of Oak Ridge Elementary School, smiled ear to ear throughout the celebration May 17 of her 50 years of teaching kindergarten.

The celebration at the school brought together around 100 of Mann’s previous students, current students and co-workers for a night of recognition for the teacher.

Being a kindergarten teacher was something that Mann knew she wanted to do since she was in kindergarten.

“I used to tell my kindergarten teacher that when I got older, I was going to be a kindergarten teacher,” she said. “I would tell her that she couldn’t retire until I got out of college, because I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and take her job.”

The day she got hired as a kindergarten teacher in Royal Oak, she received a letter that was from her inspiration.

“My first day of school, I got a note in my mailbox that said, ‘Congratulations, I am glad you finally made it, but I am still here,’ so that, you know, she was my inspiration, and I always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher,” she said.

Mann’s teaching and presence was nothing less than magical, according to fellow elementary school teacher Mary Kosnik.

“Lois is a treasure. I mean, she just has such a gift with children and is such a mentor to the rest of us who are lucky enough to be teaching with her,” Kosnik said.

For 50 years, Mann has had the opportunity to see kindergarten evolve to what it is today. In the 1970s, Mann said, the school days were only a half-day and the teaching was mostly play for the kids.

“It was much more play-based than it is today,” she said. “The more the kids are doing in kindergarten, it has to be a full day.”

Teaching students more educational information in kindergarten is beneficial, according to Mann, but she said that playing will always be a key factor in their development.

“I think we have to be careful to not get away from how important playing is, and how much they learn from playing and getting along with each other,” she said.

Mann was presented with a proclamation of recognition by Oakland County Commissioner Dave Woodward, who said he was thankful for her continued dedication to Royal Oak students.

“For 50 years, the impact you have had on our society and our community, we could not be more thankful,” Woodward said.

Mann has had a decorated career as a teacher, receiving the title of “Top Teacher” in a local publication, “Metro Parent,” in 2013.

She also received the Teacher of the Year award from the Royal Oak Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1669 in 2023, and she has recently been selected as the Royal Oak Memorial Day Parade ambassador.

Oak Ridge’s Great Room May 17 was filled with the faces of those impacted by Mann’s teaching, including a woman who was a student of Mann’s in 2001 and who recently had her two children in Mann’s class.

“I don’t remember a lot of my teachers in elementary school, but she was one that I will always remember,” Emily (Jackson) Andrzejewski said. “I will always remember the bathtub in her room, which was iconic with a bunch of pillows in it for reading.”

Having such a positive experience with Mann, Andrzejewski was thrilled to have her own children be Mann’s students 23 years later.

“There are so many things that they do that I remember vividly doing as a kid,” she said. “She is just a great teacher, and she loves all of her students.”

Being a teacher is something that comes naturally to Mann. During her career, she has not counted the years, she said; instead, she was enjoying each day.

“I teach every year because I like it and I enjoy the kids, and I enjoy the people I work with,” she said.

Even though many thought she would be nearing retirement, Mann said she is going to continue to stay in the school and teach as long as she can.

“A lot of people thought that since this is 50 years I would retire, and I have no plans to retire,” she said. “It’s because of the people that I work with, and families that I work with.”