OTTAWA — Emotions overcame Jeff McAdoo on the final day of a 35-year teaching career. The Lincoln Elementary physical education teacher was brought to tears more than once as he talked about teaching and his students.

He could not hold back May 14 when parents, students and fellow staff members surprised him with a drive-by parade in the school’s parking lot. The students displayed signs they made.

“Totally shocked,” McAdoo said as the tears welled up in eyes. “I had no clue, this is wonderful. My wife and I participated in a few of the graduation drive-by (ceremonies) for kids. We thought it was wonderful. I never thought of it (for me). I feel the love.”

McAdoo’s love of children kept him in education. It has been hard on him and fellow educators not being around students for the final seven weeks of this school year.

“Nobody planned on this,” he said. “I get emotional every time I see them. People cared enough to come and take their time. I am in education to love kids and they love me back. I feel loved and appreciated. It is beyond words.”

Home sweet home

Lincoln is home to McAdoo and his family. McAdoo attended the old Lincoln school from kindergarten through sixth grade. His mother attended Lincoln and he taught the final 14 years of his career at the school.

“Very cool to end my career where it started,” McAdoo said. “It is a total blessing. That is what it is about, loving kids. I tell people at the elementary level, our No. 1 job is to love kids. We do it in different ways. I do it through physical activity. People do it through music, others through teaching math and other stuff. I do it through teaching movement and how to take care of their bodies.”

McAdoo called his P.E. position the best in education.

“I get to see them grow up from kindergarten all the way through fifth grade and beyond when I see them out in public,” he said. “It is a unique thing that most teachers don’t get to do, I get to work with them for six years. This job, elementary P.E., can be the most powerful job in education.

McAdoo spent a few years after college searching for his career calling.

“I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up,” he said. “I did a lot of other jobs — construction, bartending, working in zoos — before I started doing this. I had my degree in this, so I had to try it. After three years, I realized this is what God gave me to do. It has been fantastic the whole time.”

Time is right

McAdoo never thought about retirement until recently. He felt they would have to make him stop teaching.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said. “I still love doing this. It felt right.”

His retirement plans is to stay busy helping his mother and brother with the family farm.

“I will be a house husband,” he said. “I have some art projects I want to do. Hopefully, I will continue to teach at KU. I have plenty to keep me busy.”