KEIZER, OR (KPTV) - This school year, amid a pandemic, FOX 12 has regularly gone inside Keizer Elementary to share the stories of teachers, staff and students firsthand, in a series called "Keizer Strong."

FOX 12 most recently spoke with a student teacher at the school about her experience this year.

"I was afraid that I was going to be completely online the whole year and I was like, 'oh no, am I going to go into teaching without any experience in the classroom,'" said McKayla Nguyen.

Nguyen is a student teacher at Keizer Elementary.

“I mean I went into college four years ago and so coming into this, I was like, 'okay, it’s going to be student teaching,'" said Nguyen. "But, it’s completely different from what I expected.”

Keizer Elementary student teacher speaks about her experience during the pandemic

McKayla Nguyen (KPTV image)

Different, as in she's been tackling remote learning for the majority of the school year.

“It’s definitely been challenging because I’m taking my own classes online, as well as student teaching here," she said.

Still, Nguyen said she's gained skills through it.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot about technology this year. So, I feel like maybe in the future, I’ll be able to incorporate the technology aspects into my regular teaching," Nguyen said. "But because we got the opportunity to come back, I’ve been kind of thankful to be like, yay, we get to experience the kids in real life and see how that goes."

Nguyen said it's going well.

“Now that we’re back, I guess I’ve been taking a little bit more control over the classroom because I’m practicing kind of being in that classroom," she said. “She’ll teach one day and then I’ll teach another day and I can kind of get to see how she teaches and then I’ll follow and kind of incorporate my own teaching as well.”

This year hasn't swayed Nguyen from pursuing her dream job, because pandemic or not, she said it's always been about the kids for her.

“I think that’s the main thing is when I was able to come back into this hybrid learning, I was really able to get to know them and their personality and everything that comes along with that," said Nguyen. "I think that they just really push me to go further. So, I think just being in the classroom with them, I really enjoy it."

Nguyen hopes to land her first full-time teaching job by the start of next school year.

MORE: FOX 12’s full School Authority coverage

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