From Harrison (her student): Miss Kim has changed my life because she is an awesome teacher. She started teaching me in 1st grade and I’m now in 3rd grade. She has taught me through a pandemic and multiple surgeries of mine (including brain surgery) and has always worked so hard to make sure that I was learning as much as I could but that I also felt loved and cared for.
I’m used to feeling a little different. I have a service dog, I used a power wheelchair and I have medical needs at school even though I’m in a typical 1-3rd grade classroom. Miss Kim has always made any changes that needs to happen so that I’m included. In first grade she even managed my tube feeds and my oxygen canister for me! She learned how to connect my tube feeds and never missed a feed. She even did it while teaching me a lesson in math once.
This year I missed a lot of school because of surgeries and Miss Kim organized the class to send me jokes before my surgery so I had a joke a day to open for an entire month! She made packets of school work for me weekly and always checked in to make sure I had everything I needed and offered me opportunities to Zoom into the classroom to talk to friends, join circle time and lunch time. She also reached out to my mom to let her know that she was thinking of us, which made my mom smile.
I love Miss Kim. She’s the first teacher who knows that even though I have medical stuff that I’m still smart and can do a lot. She pushes me really hard and makes me work! Sometimes I complain because I’m tired (I only go to school half days because of my medical condition) but she knows how hard to push and when to let me rest. With my half days I’m still caught up with the class and that’s because of her. She never forgets me even when I’m not there (if she reads a book when I’m not there it’s on my seat when I come the next day so I can read it. If the butterflies come out of the chrysalises and I’m not there then she sends an email with pictures. If they do a fun project she packages up all the pieces and gets it sent home to me so I can do it too.)
I always tell people that my disability isn’t the problem, it’s accessibility that’s the problem. Not in Miss Kim’s class. She’s all about inclusion and making me feel like each student is both unique and part of the group. No one is ever excluded even if they need to be taught differently. I love that about her.
In a Montessori classroom lots of learning includes the use of things called manipulatives. It’s a way to touch your lesson as you do it. With my disability I have a difficult time with that. So she has adapted all her lessons and changed her teaching methods to customize them for me. And it always works! I’m learning so much!
As this year comes to an end I’m going to move away from Miss Kim’s classroom. I’m nervous because she’s always inspired me to try my best even when I felt too tired to try. Because of her I want to be an astrophysicist (she encouraged me to do research into the 4th and 5th states of matter even though our class only learned about the first 3 states of matter!). It made me feel so smart and I fell in love with quantum physics, Einstein’s theories, Neil deGrass Tyson, and the cosmos. All because of her! Most third grade teachers wouldn’t encourage their students to literally, or figuratively, I can’t figure out which one, reach for the stars. She does. She also has encouraged my poetry and as a result I was published in magazines and won some awards. She inspires me to keep going and keep trying harder. I hope that even though I’m not in her class next year that she can still talk to me and help me like that. I’ll miss her a lot.
I’m excited to nominate Miss Kim. She’s the best teacher.