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First-year teacher says she's ready to face the challenges teaching during the pandemic throws at her

This first-year teacher says she can't wait to meet her students so she is doing everything she can to keep them safe.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — With all the uncertainty surrounding the opening of schools, imagine being a new teacher. Not only that but new to the Tampa area, too. 

Kaitlin Morris is from a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She graduated this spring with a Masters in Education. Just as the world was shutting down, hers opened up with a job opportunity more than a thousand miles away.

"I don't know what it is about this district, but I kind of feel like I fit right in. Now, here I am. I kind of took a leap of faith,"  Morris said

Morris says she has no regrets about leaving her hometown a month ago to teach fourth grade at Ridgecrest Elementary in Clearwater.  

"I feel so thankful that I was able to find a job at a time when the job market is probably not the hottest for a fresh out of college student."

She got a chance to meet just a few other new teachers at a welcome lunch provided by the district this week. Just like everything else this year, it wasn't your normal meet and greet, more like a grab-n-go.  

"I think it makes me feel better to know that we're all learning together and I have even more support maybe than any other year just because it's so different."

Morris has been spending the last couple weeks getting her classroom ready for the students and she's not afraid. Since she's a new teacher, she says doesn't have any previous years to compare it to.  And, she wants parents to know she is taking every precaution to keep the kids and herself safe. 

"Because I know as a teacher I just can't wait to see the kids so I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I can keep seeing them."

Morris is one of 325 newly hired teachers in Pinellas County. She says there's definitely a learning curve for everyone since policies and protocols are changing and will continue to change as the school year begins, but she's ready for the challenge.  

She's agreed to let us check in with her periodically throughout the school year.  So, we will be following up next month to see how things are going.

RELATED: Here are the reopening plans for Tampa Bay school districts

RELATED: COVID IN CLASS: How will Florida report cases in schools?

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