A Minnesota kindergarten teacher battling cancer is continuing to instruct her students while undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital.
Kelly Klein is receiving treatment for ovarian cancer at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota and isn’t letting it stop her from teaching her class virtually at Falcon Heights Elementary School, according to Good Morning America.
"Teaching 5-year-olds I always say is like going to Disney World. Everything is exciting and they're so excited about everything that it gets me excited," the 54-year-old told the outlet. "When you're at chemo and you're around a lot of sick people, it's kind of a depressing place to be. For me, to be around 5-year-olds during that time, it's like a slice of normalcy in an abnormal environment."
Klein, a mother of two, previously battled stage 3 ovarian cancer five years ago. This past summer she learned the cancer had returned.
When she got the news, Klein, who has been at the school for 32 years, knew right away she didn’t want to take a leave of absence from her students.
“Kelly came to me and said, ‘Please don’t make me.’ I said, ‘Absolutely not, let’s figure it out together,’” school principal Beth Behnke said.
One day each month, Klein receives 5-hour treatments at the hospital and brings her laptop to instruct her students.
Due to COVID protocols, she’s not allowed to have any visitors with her during the treatment and says being with the students remotely has been a “bright spot.”
"I get the energy from the kids like they get the energy from me," Klein added. "I get as much out of it as the kids."
There have been no complaints from parents about the unusual classroom setup as many have continued to praise Klein for being a leader despite her medical battle.
"She's a very beloved teacher and she deserves it because she's the type of teacher who shows up every year," Behnke added.
"And what she's doing is part of living in our world, just helping kids manage through lots of situational things that don't have to define us but are part of our lived experience."