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Millions of people across the country are celebrating Women’s History Month. It was established in 1987 to recognize the contributions women have made to improve the lives of people around the world. Whether they are doctors, engineers, soldiers, nurses or stay-at-home mothers, there are countless women who deserve to be honored this month. Irene Shoemaker, 92, resident at Waltonwood Cotswold, is a Charlotte native who dedicated most of her life to providing education to local children, specifically first-graders. Shoemaker was a public school teacher and after her retirement she taught in a preschool until the age of 80. Many people, including Shoemaker, agree that teachers don’t often receive the recognition they deserve. It may seem easy to some, but first-grade teachers play an important role in children’s lives. At the beginning of every school year, they have a classroom full of students who most of the time don’t even know how to read or write. Teaching these skills to developing children is crucial, as they can help shape their future. Shoemaker worked hard every day to provide the best education for her students. Today, she has advice for other teachers impacting the lives of children.

“Educating children was one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, right after being a mother,” said Shoemaker. “I have always loved children, so deciding what career path was the best for me wasn’t hard. Women play an important role in everyone’s life, and I need them to remember to work hard and always do their best in everything they do. Be the example and inspiration to younger generations.”

Shoemaker was married for more than half of a century, raised three children, and is a caring grandmother to her four grandchildren. Her son, Steve Shoemaker, comes to Waltonwood Cotswold at least five days a week to have lunch with her. Steve says his mother is an example of a hard-working woman who always went out of her way to provide for her family. Steve believes growing up in an environment where education was valued encouraged him and his siblings to get their degrees and have successful careers.

“My mother was a wonderful teacher because she knew how to combine affection with her teaching skills,” said Steve Shoemaker. “She and all the women out there deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to our society. I believe it is important to lift up the women who have made an impact on our lives.”

“Irene is one of the many amazing women living at the community who have so much to share with younger generations,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “Seeing the relationship she has with her son and the way Steve admires her is inspiring to all of us. We hope Irene’s story will serve as a reminder to all teachers that their dedication to changing the lives of students doesn’t go unnoticed.”

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