Coronavirus News: How Brooklyn kindergarten teacher makes learning special for her students

FLATBUSH, Brooklyn (WABC) -- So anxious to learn, the kindergarten students in Zenzile Dabreo's class can't wait for their lessons.

"I love kindergarten. To me, it's the best grade. You get to be hands-on and engaging," said Dabreo.

Now, with the COVID-19 virus, Dabreo's classroom is her kitchen.

"I have some resources I made that we use in the classroom every day so that while I'm teaching them, we can reference it," said Dabreo.

Normally any other time, Dabreo's kindergarten class would be a beehive of activity, with all sorts of teaching moments, but lesson plans have now changed.

"I brought home a suitcase of books from our classroom, so I could read aloud to them every day," she said.

At first, the PS/IS 109 students did not understand why they couldn't go to their school in Flatbush.

"They would say things like they need a hug, and I wasn't there to give them a hug, so then we started giving virtual hugs and high fives to make them feel better," Dabreo said.

Last Friday, she set up a virtual playdate for her students that ended up lasting three hours.

"I try to incorporate the things that they love that make our classroom unique. I still do it. Mindfulness, words of affirmation - things of that nature, we still try to do it online," she added.

Nikki Palermo has worked with Dabreo as a paraprofessional for three years.

"She will definitely come out a stronger teacher now that she knows new strategies on video chatting with the students - she is learning this as everyone else is going with this," said Palermo.

While she even continues her own education, she puts her students first, especially in these difficult times.

"We can't only teach academics - we have to put their social and emotional needs in the forefront, and make sure everybody is okay first," said Dabreo.

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