Robin Kennett reads a children’s book to her elementary class. Submitted

BETHEL — “I think the world should be run by five-year-old[s],” says Crescent Elementary School Kindergarten teacher, Robin Kennett. “They are the kindest human beings that ever existed … I just think they have a positive attitude.”

Kennett has been teaching kindergarten at Crescent Elementary School for more than 35 years. Every year is always different but last year’s pandemic brought a series new surprises and Kennett found unique ways to overcome the challenges.

It is normal for teachers to find ways make a kindergartner feel safe as it’s, usually, their first time away from their parents for extended period every day. They’re coming to a place where they’ve never been. With social distancing in place, more extreme measures at the height of the pandemic, students couldn’t really sit with the other students. If they got hurt, the normal ways of comforting them were thrown out the window.

Kennett got creative. If anyone got hurt, they would clink elbows with Kennett. She also had an animated dance that was encouraging for students, to pick them up when they were sad. In addition, she would tell everyone to do an air hug! Which involved the student hugging themselves tightly while laughing a bit. Kennett thought of all the ways that were non-physical that could be translated into making a student feel safe.

“[The] biggest challenge … each day I’d zoom and I had three reading groups,” explains Kennett. “I did read aloud a couple times a day and then I did a math group two to three times a week and then I did reading group every day. And then we did show and tell on Friday.

“That was the funniest part of the whole week. Try zooming with 14 five-year-olds at home … I’ve seen everybody’s bedroom, everybody’s living room, their porch. You kind of see, ‘Remember I told you about my doll? This is where my doll is – do you want to see my bedroom?’ And it just went on for an entire day.”


Kennett found ways to connect with her students when they went remote. She made a laminated version of herself, like a Flat Stanley, and dropped it off at each student’s home.

“I said, you can take me wherever you want,” Kennett says. “If you think I would sit with you while you’re doing your work or you know what, I can just go outside and play with you. I would get pictures constantly from parents showing me like, ‘Oh, you know you ate breakfast with us this morning. Thank goodness you’re laminated; you fell in the cereal bowl.’ I mean, all these silly things, but I think that was another way for them to feel like I was still there. And if it was somebody’s birthday, I would deliver them a birthday present, or Easter, I’ve swung by again… .

“I would say look in the mail, you’re going to get some mail from me today. You just had to come up with some really creative ways to keep that relationship. You couldn’t obviously do all the things you do, but you still felt like you made a difference.”

Kennett mulls over the idea of knowing about the pandemic in advance and having the choice to pick any career.

“Oh my goodness, you’d have to absolutely love children to be a teacher right now,” exclaims Kennett. “It’s not an easy job. I mean, whatever you get, you embrace, and your job is to make a difference. Whether you’re getting a student who has never had experiences or whether you have another student who has had many, every student is entitled to be taught where they are at. So if you just give me some kids, I’ll be as happy as can be!”

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