For many educators, teaching is more than just a job—it’s a passion. Positively impacting the lives of young people brings satisfaction that goes well beyond a paycheck. Kelly Klein, a kindergarten teacher in Minnesota, knows this all too well. In fact, she is continuing to teach virtual classes (due to COVID-19) from the hospital as she receives chemotherapy for stage-3 ovarian cancer.
Klein goes to the hospital once a month for her cancer treatments. During the five hours that she’s there, it becomes her temporary classroom. The 32-year teaching veteran brings her laptop and supplies to engage and inspire her class of 5 and 6-year-old students.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Klein has had to undergo treatment for ovarian cancer. She was first diagnosed with it five years ago and as a result, took off about six months due to aggressive treatments. When she learned that she’d need chemotherapy again, she was determined to continue teaching. For Klein, being with her students is a light in this dark time.
“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,” Klein explained. “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.”
In deciding to work in tandem with her illness, Klein is setting a powerful example for her young students that people with cancer can continue to live even if they're sick. “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,” Beth Behnke, Klein’s school principal, said of her, “but are part of our lived experience.”
Educator Kelly Klein has continued to teach kindergarten during chemotherapy, calling the experience a “slice of normalcy in an abnormal environment.”