By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – What is there to do when you’ve given a half-century of your life to Dallas ISD students? If you’re H.I. Holland’s Alfia White, you give a little more.

“You’re not going to clean house every day,” White said, “You don’t want to cook every day, so I said, ‘Well, let me go help some of the children.'”

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And helped them she has.

“Yes, Lord!” she exclaimed with a cheerful laugh. “If I can stay here until the end of this year, it will be 52 years at this one building… and it’s time for me to take a walk!”

The veteran educator says she didn’t intend to spend this much time at the elementary school; in fact, she didn’t plan to become a teacher at all.

“When my dad told me I was going to school to be a teacher, I said, ‘I don’t want to be a teacher!'” she recalled. “And now that I have been teaching, I can’t stop teaching! So, I guess it must be my calling.”

White tried to retire 15 years ago, but three months later the principal called, needing a hand after the person who replaced her abruptly resigned.

“He asked me to finish the year. And I finished that year and started volunteering, in and out… I’ve been here ever since,” she said.

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Principal Shanieka Christmas-McDonald says White is a campus gem.

“She just has a wealth of knowledge,” Christmas-McDonald said. The staffer who is always quick with a joke to lift spirits, one who is always eager to lend a hand.

“She’s most definitely one of the leaders on the campus – like a mother figure… takes care of everybody, no matter what.”

Some of White’s current colleagues were once her students.

“They need younger teachers,” White said. “And they need teachers who can crawl around on the floor with them and get up and down…”

Still, at 80 years young, White says she wouldn’t change a thing.

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“I have enjoyed my years with the children… and it gives me a good feeling knowing that I’m doing something to help the child to climb one step at a time,” she said. “I tell them you can be anything you want to be – we reach for the stars. We might not get there, but we’re trying.”