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Here's what it's like to teach kindergarten during COVID-19

Emily has been teaching for four years at Garrett Elementary in the Hazelwood School District

HAZELWOOD, Mo. — She called herself a walking cliché right off the bat.

Her words, not mine.

And I have to say, I don’t agree.

“It’s going to sound cliché,” she said. “But, I’ve always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher because of my kindergarten teacher.”

And Emily Rudolph was made for the job.

Her energy, even on a Zoom interview, is impressive.

She’s excited to answer each of my questions and she’s incredibly expressive.

Emily has been teaching for four years at Garrett Elementary in the Hazelwood School District.

Right now, she’s alone in the classroom. Due to the pandemic, she met her students for the first time online and teaches them virtually every day.

“I have as much energy as them and we just make an awesome duo. We're just trying to engage each other and give them the love of learning because kindergarten is the stepping stone of learning.”

As for kindergarten during COVID-19, Emily said technology knowledge has been a hurdle for everyone. Plus, there’s that attention span. That’s when Emily’s boundless energy comes in.

“Some of them, yes, they’re getting distracted and bored because they're on a virtual computer but it helps that I have a lot of energy. I'm up, I'm dancing. I'm doing whatever they're doing to just keep that engagement together,” she said.

Now back to her cliché claim.

Emily says her career path was inspired by Linda Goldman, her kindergarten teacher at Sorrento Springs Elementary School in Chesterfield.

“The way she did everything. I mean, even when she said your name.  She wasn’t above you. She knelt down and was with you, instead of above you, which I really respected. Now, I’ve done that with my own students.  Whenever they come in, I’m not above them. I’m with them. I kneel down and we’re on the same wavelength,” Emily said.

Twenty years later, Emily reconnected with Ms. Goldman.

“When I graduated college, I actually called her… I told her that she was my role model.”

Emily said Ms. Goldman remembered her, her siblings and her parents.

One educator passing on the love of learning to the next generation.

I think the world could use more self-proclaimed clichés.

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