Her classroom doesn’t have maps of the world, stacks of lunchboxes, or really anything that would adorn a conventional classroom.
“Learning doesn’t have to be just from worksheets,” says Kendall Williams, a Florida certified school teacher at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
Teachers here include everything from sing-alongs to jewelry making in their custom curriculum for kids. For 7-year-old Kelsie, who has needed hospital stints her entire life because of cystic fibrosis, the completion of math lessons is rewarded with dance–silly, jump up and down like you have the energy of a 7-year-old dance.
Williams keeps up, just with less jumping. She left the traditional classroom two years ago and devotes herself to keeping sick children from falling behind in their studies.
“Kelsie loves to dance and have fun. So I include that in her lessons,” Williams says.
Each child’s learning plan is personal, one-on-one. Last month, the special gown and gloves worn to protect Kelsie’s fragile lungs kept bright red icing from staining her clothes. She and a child life specialist incorporated baking cookies into another patient’s activities because they really missed home cooking during a long hospital stay. For Kelsie, math/dance class ended when her physical therapist arrived. Tomorrow, Williams plans language arts for Kelsie. She wants her to write an essay.
As the vaccine comes to the frontline workers, a world of possibilities begins to open up.
For Gavin, the hospital isn’t all about challenges and adversity. It’s about giving joy to others.
The holidays she has altered to care for kids are too many to count, but as she retires, she leaves much for patients and colleagues to be thankful.
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