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Thanks to Teachers: Dusty Kurkimilis

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In Dusty Kurkimilis Kindergarten class, at Blue Ridge Elementary school, today's talk is all about teeth.

"February is National Dental Health Month," Kurkimilis tells the students.

Kurkimilis, or "Ms. K" as her students call her, leads her students through a full lesson on oral health, from the importance of brushing your teeth, to identify foods that are good or bad for your smile.

"When they first come in here and they are so young, they're frightened, they're insecure," says Ms. K about her students. "They don't know what's happening. You have to love them. You have to make them feel valued, and you have to make them feel safe."

Ms. K is a 6th-year Kindergarten teacher, first at Bald Creek Elementary and now the new Blue Ridge Elementary in Yancey County.

She began her career later in life, after serving as a parent volunteer.

"I always loved the energy of a classroom, and I saw how crucial it was for students and teachers to have really great relationships. So, I thought, I just really want to be a part to help shape and mold the future," Kurkimilis explains.

Kurkimilis' young students say they enjoy coming to school, learning and seeing their teacher.

"She's a good teacher, and, I think that's all," says six-year-old Brayden.

"She teaches us how to read. She teaches us our letters, our numbers," says five-year-old Madison.

Ms. K says at the end of Kindergarten her goal is to leave her students with this memory of their time together.

"I care about what their thoughts, feelings, and opinions were. I want them to look back and say 'wow, my first year of school was phenomenal. I felt really important and well cared for."

A memory sure to make everyone smile.

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