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Unsung Hero: Mt. Vernon Kindergarten teacher Denae Jones

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MT. VERNON (WSIL) -- A Jefferson County Kindergarten teacher has set a positive example for her students and others in this edition of Unsung Hero.

Denae Jones has been teaching Kindergarten at Doctor Nick Osborn Primary Center in Mt. Vernon for 11-years. Because of the pandemic, she said this is her hardest year. Danae said many days left her crying. She said this grade is about making connections, and for the first eight weeks, trying to develop relationships with 5-year-olds over the computer was hard.

"Kindergarten kids are the most amazing kids. If you're having a bad day, if you see something that's on the news that breaks your heart, walk into a kindergarten classroom, and you're reminded of how lucky we are because they are the future and they are wonderful every day," said Denae.

She said she's loud, cheers, sings, and even dances for her students. Although she struggled, others said this is when she shined the most.

"She certainly has gone above and beyond and done so many things, as so many teachers have throughout this challenging year, and having to teach in ways that they never did before, but she certainly adapted and has done an amazing job," said Principal Cindy Kessler.

She's described as always smiling, enthusiastic, bubbly, and truly loves her kids. You would never know she was having a hard time because she gives so much to her students. She said she relied heavily on the eight other Kindergarten teachers at the school.

"When I would struggle with teaching something on the computer, I would talk to them, and they would have an idea, so I feel like if I didn't have those other eight women, I probably couldn't have made it through this year like I did because we have {really} stuck together this year," added Denae.

Her classes went from full remote to hybrid to starting in-person classes in February. She has nearly all 18 of her students in the classroom except for one who is remained remote. Danae said she hopes she, retirees, from her Purple Classroom because it's where her heart is.

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Evie Allen

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