Hazel Haley, the Lakeland High School English teacher thought to have been the longest-serving teacher in the country, died at her home Monday, friends said. She was 91. Haley retired in May 2006 after a 69-year career as an English teacher, 67 of those at Lakeland High.
It was the longest tenure for a Florida teacher.
Harold A. 'Streamline' Sale, a student of Haley's in the 1940s, went to Haley's home Monday afternoon and found her.
"We lost a very good friend today," Sale said. "Lakeland will miss her. Education will miss her."
Superintendent Gail McKinzie said Haley not only meant a lot to Polk County schools but to the whole community.
"She had such an influence on so many people who are now adults," McKinzie said. "It's a real loss to all of us."
McKinzie talked about how Haley continued to volunteer and attend Lakeland football games after retirement.