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This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. Brand Ave. Studios connects advertisers with a targeted audience through compelling content programs, from concept to production and distribution. For more information contact sales@brandavestudios.com.
Local teacher learns to build kids’ trust in a virtual world

Local teacher learns to build kids’ trust in a virtual world

Teacher of the month Kelly Sander

Joining Affton High School Teacher of the Month Kelly Sander is Affton High School Principal Dr. Deann Myers (left), St. Louis Post-Dispatch NIE Manager Jennifer Broach (center), Affton School District Superintendent Dr. Travis Bracht (far right) and her husband Dennis Sander (back row).

For 24 years, Kelly Sander never had a challenge quite like the 2020-2021 school year. Her kids, who she was used to interacting and collaborating with, were no longer face-to-face. Many struggled with technology and she could only recognize them by the small icon they were represented by on the screen. But it was her role navigating kids through the virtual school atmosphere that earned her a nomination for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Teacher of the Month.

Mrs. Sander spent much of last year staying late on Zoom calls and checking in on kids to make sure they haven’t fallen behind. “Building trust looked a lot different last year,” she said. “But they knew they could rely on me.” Less time was spent on teaching history so much as checking in with everyone to see how they were.

New school year, new experiences

Now kids are back in class and she looks forward to getting back to the experiential teaching style she loves. Some kids she taught last year are back in new social studies electives and she’s seeing their faces in-person for the first time.

She tries not to talk for long, so kids have more time to interpret the information, discuss and collaborate. “I want them to be doing the thinking, not me,” she said. She uses experiments to try to get the kids fired up about the lesson emotionally. The emotional attachment helps them retain the information much better than lectures or trying to memorize dates, she says.

Mrs. Sander teaches history and social studies electives to grades 10 to 12 at Affton High School. She likes to joke that what she actually teaches is “emotional regulation.”

“They’re still kids at this age. They still get giddy about stickers,” she said. “If I can help teach them to regulate their emotions, they will be better, more thoughtful humans.”

Being thoughtful is her ultimate goal for her students, beyond becoming better readers, writers and thinkers.

A time for thanks

She loves watching the progress students make from year-to-year. Even the differences from junior to senior year can be impactful. She says these students keep her young, too, on their path to adulthood by always making her laugh.

Mrs. Sander said she was “shocked” to be recognized, even going so far as to wonder if it was real. “Teachers go a long time between ‘atta boys sometimes,” she said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”

As part of her award, Kelly Sander will receive a $250 gift card from Elco Chevrolet-Cadillac. If you would like to nominate a favorite teacher for the Teacher of the Month program, visit STLtoday.com/contests.

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This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. Brand Ave. Studios connects advertisers with a targeted audience through compelling content programs, from concept to production and distribution. For more information contact sales@brandavestudios.com.
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Custom Content Editor

Aubrey is a custom content editor at Feast Magazine and Brand Ave. Studios contributing writer. She loves eating on patios, coffee, being outdoors and spending time with her dog.

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