Emotions went through 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 his emotions Thursday 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.

“We have the built-in motivation that most teachers would kill for because the kids want to be here. The world of activity is the real world for kids. When things happen in here, we can talk about the cause and effect of the choices they make. We work on all life skills through activity and play.”

Fell into career

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.”

Teaching has always been in his blood, even when tinkering with other jobs.

“Before I started teaching in public schools, I was always teaching gymnastics, swimming or something to kids as a second job,” McAdoo said. “I love being around kids. If I am out somewhere and I hear the sound of kids playing, it is like a magnet. It pulls me over to it to see what is going on.”

McAdoo’s teaching foundation was built around many McAdoo-isms. Kindergartners are introduced to those on their first day. He teaches them playing is exercising.

“When kids come into kindergarten this is the first thing I try to get across to them,” he said pointing to his white board. “Then we work on overload (which) is muscle development. If you want to get stronger, you have to do more.

“I love it when you fail in here. That proves you have courage to do things that are difficult for you.”

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.”