woman on computer in hospital bed

Kindergarten teacher keeps teaching from hospital room while undergoing chemotherapy

This woman continues to inspire by teaching from her hospital room.

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For many educators out there, teaching is more than just a job. It’s a true passion, and nothing will stop them from doing what they love best. Teaching! For this inspiring educator, teaching from her hospital room is no sweat off her back, even though she is undergoing cancer treatment.

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Teaching is Kelly’s passion

54-Year-old Kindergarten school teacher Kelly Klein teaches at Falcon Heights Elementary School. She’s the sort of teacher you remember for life because you loved her so! She’s been a teacher for 32 years, 12 of which have been teaching kindergarten-aged children.

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“Teaching kindergarten is like going to Disney World. Every day is something special. They’re just so excited about everything. We make each lesson theatrical and fun and gimmicky, and they love it. They absolutely love it.”

Kelly Klein

According to principal Beth Behnke, she doesn’t think Kelly has ever missed a day off work. For Kelly, daily life with her students is what keeps her going.[1]

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teaching from her hospital room
Image Credit: Kelly Klein via Twin Cities

She came to me during the summer, before school started, and said, ‘Please don’t make me take a (medical) leave.’ I said, ‘Of course not. We’ll figure it out together.”

Beth Behnke

That was until she was diagnosed with Cancer…

Kelly was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. But, that is not stopping her from teaching. Kelly has been teaching from her hospital room every day, despite the fact that she’s fighting for her life.[2]

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I was first diagnosed five years ago, and I did take leave then because I was really sick. I missed teaching so much.” 

Kelly Klein

Teaching from her hospital room

Kelly teaches her students every day, even while undergoing chemotherapy. She refused to go on leave.[2]

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What better way to spend four or five hours than with 5-year-olds. It makes the time pass quickly. It makes me smile.

Kelly Klein
teaching from her hospital room
Image Credit: Kelly Klein via Twin Cities

Mrs. Klein says her students help her get by each day. Undoubtedly, they remind her to be happy and strong and keep going. Teaching from her hospital room is exactly what Kelly wants. Additionally, she says that being able to continue is a gift and that her little students are the best medicine she could ask for.

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It’s real easy to go down the ‘Why me?’ — and I think if I didn’t have five-year-olds to teach every day, I would spend a lot of time thinking about that. My students absolutely give me strength.” 

Kelly Klein

Kelly is teaching from her hospital room and her kids are learning from her experience

It’s not easy to explain to little children what illnesses and diseases are, especially cancer. But, Kelly has explained what is happening to her body in the simplest way. Now, her school kids are part of her everyday life, including when she goes for treatments.[1][2]

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They just know that I have cancer. They know that I go to ‘the doctor’s house’ to get medicine every month to help me get better.

Kelly Klein

Kelly’s students even know the song she plays when driving to the hospital for treatments. So, she uses the opportunity for them to have their dance break, which they do via a dance app.

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They know that’s my pump-me-up song to go to the doctor’s house, so we dance to that each month on Go Noodle.”

Kelly Klein

As we said, it isn’t easy explaining to small children when something tragic is going on, and that’s why Kelly has not told her students about her losing her hair due to chemo.

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Five-year-olds worry. When you’re bald, it’s scary. I haven’t wanted to say anything until it’s really noticeable, and so far, it hasn’t been. I got my hair cut really short, so it wouldn’t be as traumatic. The first time I lost it, it was really long.”

Kelly Klein

Finally, Kelly hopes her students will remember her and the time they spent together. She wants them to know and see that cancer doesn’t have to be a ‘death sentence.’

What I hope they get from this is that people with cancer can also thrive and be silly and happy and playful and fun and contribute.”

Kelly Klein

Check out Kelly on the Ellen show!

Keep Reading: It’s Time to Focus on the Things That Unite Us.

Sources:

  1. She’s fighting cancer while teaching kindergarten by Zoom; MN teacher to be featured on the ‘Ellen’ show.” Twin Cities. Mary Divine. February 15, 2021.
  2. Minnesota teacher with cancer continues virtual classes, even during chemotherapy.CBS News. January 26, 2021.
Jade Small
Freelance Writer
Jade is a freelance writer and content creator from South Africa with over 7 years of experience writing and creating. She's also a proud single mom to a super 13-year-old boy.
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