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Emily Kleve | Faces of Midland


Remembering the Why |

Throughout her life, Emily Kleve has approached every opportunity and every passion with a simple rule: always remember the why. Whether she is a student, engaging in the arts, or teaching, Emily knows that the people she will reach in these capacities will not get her total effort unless she keeps her why at the forefront of her mind. 

A senior education major pursuing an education degree, Emily’s why is situated in her desire to engage her students. For Emily, being a teacher is about letting students take ownership of their learning and recognizing that education does not have to be a mundane task. 

“Truly, you are never going to stop learning. Learning through experiences is just life. You go through all of these experiences in life, and you learn from them. As a teacher, I think it’s important to apply that to little kids and know what they want to learn. There is a joy that can come from learning, and I want to instill that in my students.”

Emily’s passion for teaching began as early as middle school. After an accident hindered her band director’s ability to conduct, Emily stepped in to lead her peers in his stead as a middle school drum major. She continued conducting in high school, helping with the fifth-grade band. Through her passion for music and working with her peers in a teacher’s role, Emily found a love for teaching.

“I look back at all of the things I wanted to do when I was younger, but I knew deep down I always wanted to be a teacher. After my band teacher got in a motorcycle accident, I had the opportunity to be put in a teacher’s role, and I really liked that. I knew I was going to be a teacher from there.”

After graduating high school in 2012, Emily spent a few years in college before being selected to be a part of the Young American arts program in California. Having made it after multiple auditions, Emily found the experience to be significant in her continued growth as a teacher. Having opportunities to engage in arts with kids from several countries, Emily came out of the experience with new perspectives on teaching.

“With Young Americans, we would stay in homestays when we traveled abroad. There would be some homestays that were able to provide and get us anything we would want, and there were others that may not have had the means to do that. I have seen high-end communities, and really low-end communities, at the same time. Schools bring both of those together, and that perspective reminds me always to treat all of my students with grace and understanding, no matter where they come from.”

Emily continued to increase her role in the Young Americans, moving up to student advisor and eventually a role in marketing. However, after COVID hit, Emily felt compelled to return home to Nebraska. Once home, she decided to follow through with her desire to become a teacher, enrolling at Midland to pursue an elementary education major.

Regardless of the context in which she is teaching, Emily always goes back to the why. Through knowing that and living it, Emily knows she will always be able to find joy in what she does. She urges her peers to do the same in their own careers and interests. 

“Never lose your why. Always have something that drives you in the paths you take. Through that, you will always find joy, and that is going to make everything ten times better. If you can orient your work from a place of happiness, you will see it as something you get to do, not something you have to do.”

Emily Kleve is a senior elementary education major from Central City, NE. To share your story or nominate a friend, email or post using #FacesofMidland.

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