ST. CHARLES, Mo. — “Put a number that we're going to add,” Kelsey Niemeier calls to her class.
Maybe 11—the number of days into the school year, when we stopped by.
“So that’s your first number, any number you want."
You could choose 23, for number of kids in the classroom.
"Thank you!" she announces.
What about the number one—for Ms. Niemeier’s first year as a teacher?
“There are still says where I’m like, blinking, ‘Is this real? Am I still dreaming?’" she laughs. “But it's real—I’m here!”
She teaches fourth grade at Francis Howell Central Elementary, the same school where her mom also taught fourth grade for years.
“I would always help her cut out laminations, with little science experiments,” she recalls.
“I was nervous starting off,” she said, “but I think because my mom taught 4th grade I knew a little bit of the curriculum already and I knew that it would be a little bit of a challenge, but I was up for it.”
She says her first crop of students is a group of amazing kids.
“They're a chatty group but I feel like that's every child,” she said. “But they're great. They want to participate.”
"When I first met her I was very shy, because I'm not used to first year teachers,” said Tyler, one of her students.
“I was too,” added his friend and classmate, Derek.
But they say so far, so good.
“She's very happy, like's she's always very happy and she doesn't really lose her patience very easily,” said classmate Olivia.
So a number of days later, we came back—this time, with the document projector she says she’s been wanting for her classroom.
The students were doing math at the time, but we had a different idea: students wrote notes of praise for their teacher, sharing with the class on her new projector.
“I said you are one in a million,” shouted one student.
“Hey that was my idea!” argued another.
"I think we are the best class in the whole school," called a classmate, to which Ms. Niemeier responded: “You know we’re the best class in the whole school!"