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Waverly teachers reflect on Nebraska Teacher Appreciation Day

Students and parents across the state are using today to say a big "Thank You" to those making...
Students and parents across the state are using today to say a big "Thank You" to those making a difference in and out of the classrooms, especially during the pandemic.(KOLN)
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 8:45 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Tuesday, March 2, 2021 is Nebraska Teacher Appreciation Day.

Students and parents across the state are using today to say a big “Thank You” to those making a difference in and out of the classrooms, especially during the pandemic.

This year, teachers in Waverly decided to share with us how it’s been during this time.

10/11 NOW’s Kamri Sylve had the pleasure of joining in on Kellie Harring’s seventh grade science class at Waverly Middle School. The kids were doing a lab and our reporter says it was evident that hands-on teaching is Harring’s style.

She says it’s been a challenge trying to do that throughout the pandemic but says students and parents have been extremely supportive.

In her 12 years of teaching, Harring says one of the hardest things for her this past year was that she didn’t feel like she connected with students as much as she has in the past.

Between wearing masks and doing a bit of schooling on Zoom, she says she’s lost out on having some of that interaction kids thrive from in learning. Now that they’re back in the classrooms full time, Harring says she’s making sure all kids are seen and heard.

“We’re thinking about ten things and then trying to help a student when they’re saying they’re going to be gone tomorrow. We’re trying to engage students at the same time that we’re trying to get across content. It can’t all be just sit and get out of the book. It can’t be all just fun and labs,” said Harring.

Harring says she’s grown an appreciation for being back in the classroom, adding that she’s seen a boost in excitement and engagement in kids since the switch.

Harring says she first went into teaching because of her own teachers when she was in school. She tells us those that influenced her made school fun, which is one of her goals for her students she teaches today.

This is Erin Keithley’s second year as a kindergarten teacher at Hamlow Elementary in Waverly. She transitioned there during the pandemic and says adjusting to online teaching during the spring semester was different, but it helped her learn how to roll with the punches.

From making sure little ones are wearing their masks properly and are sanitizing their hands when they walk into the classroom, Keithley says teaching kindergarten in this pandemic has posed its own new challenges.

She tells us with her team’s help, they’ve been able to come together and figure out what works best. Keithley says because her students develop social skills in kindergarten, masks have been difficult to navigate but have somewhat opened up new doors.

“You can’t really tell if they’re participating all the time or how they feel or they can’t see how they’re teacher is feeling. So, we have to use our words a lot more, [saying things like,] ‘That made me so happy. You’re making me so proud. I’m smiling behind my mask,’” Keithley shared.

Keithley says it’s important to know that teachers are trying their best during this time to meet the needs of each child as an individual. She tells us that’s why community support from parents and staff helps make things a bit easier.

Some ways you support teachers on Nebraska Teacher Appreciation day is by simply write them a thank you note, shooting them a quick email or by supporting local, giving them a gift card to a restaurant or coffee shop.

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