Distance learning has been an adjustment for students and teachers alike during the pandemic.
While many teachers are teaching students through the internet from their homes, Kelly Klein is teaching from “her doctor’s house.”
That’s how one of her kindergarten students refers to the hospital room where Klein receives chemotherapy as she teaches her classes via Zoom while hooked up to an IV bag that delivers a cancer-fighting drug through a port in her chest.
Klein’s sessions at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota last between four and five hours long.
“They’re helping me be strong,” Klein says of her 21 students. “Because it’s real easy to go down the ‘Why me?’”
She had surgery to remove tumors and endured aggressive chemotherapy to rid herself of cancer.
“I just had a really bad feeling that something might be up,” Klein told Kare 11. “Now that it’s returned, it’s not curable. It’s terminal.”
She would rather continue teaching than go on medical leave.
“The last time around I had a posse of friends that went with me to chemo every week. And with COVID I can’t have that. So, what better way to spend four or five hours than with 5-year-olds,” Klein said.
Parent Dan Fergus says that the experience gave him an opportunity to have important family discussions.
“He knows that there are people taking care of her, there are doctors and nurses taking care of her,” Fergus said of his child.
“That she chose them to be with her is something pretty amazing,” parent Sarah Derdoski says becoming emotional. “Couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. I can’t imagine what she would do in person, if she can do this, from there.”
She plans to do this through science experiments and books about gingerbread girls.
“I want them to see that cancer isn’t a death sentence,” Klein explains. “You can still be happy and playful and silly and funny and energized.”
“I’m their best cheerleader,” she says. “It’s really building their self-efficacy so that they can know that they can do anything in this world. Maybe they’ll invent a cure for cancer. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.”
Learn more about Klein’s story in the video below. You can also donate to a GoFundMe toward Klein’s treatment as well as ovarian cancer research here.
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