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1st-year teacher reflects on a challenging school year

"I built really strong relationships with my students. They knew they could trust me."

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Wednesday is the last day of school in Pinellas County and we know what an incredible year it's been for all students and teachers. 

Just before school started we introduced you to a teacher who was just starting her career and we've checked in with her throughout the year to see how things are going.

When we first met Kaitlin Morris, she had just graduated college and moved here from Pennsylvania to take her first job here at Ridgecrest Elementary teaching 4th grade. 

And, what a year it's been! But, Kaitlin's positive attitude kept her and her students going through some challenging times. 

RELATED: Sticky notes of positivity and some creativity: How a first-year teacher handles class during the coronavirus

"It's been a huge, huge, huge learning experience that I think every teacher can say we learned from, but especially it being my first year, I feel like coming out of it there's just so much I've taken away from this year. So I'm very happy I've made it through the year."

It was a tough start. Having to wear a mask, keeping the kids socially distanced and separating areas with plastic barriers, but Kaitlin was able to work around it and the kids just adapted. 

"I built really strong relationships with my students. They knew they could trust me. They could come to me. They asked me questions about what was going on and they knew I would try an and tell them as honestly and just realistic as possible."

RELATED: Pinellas County teacher shares what it's like teaching while history is being made

She also learned if she and the kids can get through a year like this, the sky's the limit! 

"I feel like I came out an even better educator than I could have imagined in the beginning. I learned things that probably others didn't learn until  this year even if they were teaching for a long time. So, I feel like I've accomplished something by getting through this school year. I'm pretty proud of myself and I'm trying to remind myself to be proud of what I've accomplished."

Kaitlin says she is truly going to miss her students. They bonded over this difficult school year, but they really had some amazing times too. While Kaitlin will have new students next year, she's staying at Ridgecrest and will get keep up with those same smiling faces when school starts again in August.