Student, school overcome health challenges
Tech keeps Manawa girl in class
By Holly Neumann
Life has never been easy for Kelli Prinsen of Manawa.
The 15-year-old freshman was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and no spleen.
According to her mother, Kelli has been faced with several surgeries to fix the problems.
“Three open hearts surgeries, the Norwood, Glen and Fontan in these three steps,” said Cindy Prinsen. “The first surgery was when she was nine days old, then six months and a year old. She’s also had a catheterization every three years.”
Along with disease, come some restrictions in Kelli’s lifestyle.
“I can’t play in sports or participate in gym activities,” Kelli said. “I cannot run or walk really fast, or dance like any normal person or I will get sick.”
Kelli’s oxygen levels run between 75 to 80, compared to the average person, who runs about 99.
“So the more active she gets the lower her oxygen levels go,” said Cindy.
And once the winter cold and flu season arrives, Kelli is forced to stay home from school.
“Due to the strain of flus and Kelli’s oxygen levels being low, her body does not do well and it’s very hard on her,” Cindy said. “When someone coughs, she seems to get it.”
The Manawa School District has made it possible for Kelli to still be a part of the classroom experience at those times.
“The school has worked with the Prinsen family to ensure that during the months where influenza and other contagious respiratory viruses are present in the school, Kelli can continue her education at home,” said Principal Dan Wolfgram. “With the advent of the Internet, Google Classroom, Google Hangouts and Skype, the school has used technology to bring her into the classroom.”
According to Wolfgram, Sam Mosey, the districts IT director, has worked with the teachers where iPads have been strategically placed in the classroom and Kelli’s friends would often times “carry” her from class to class so she could be a part of the instruction.
“This way, Kelli can get the level of teaching that she needs,” Cindy said.
The school has also supplemented the technology with tutors who make home visits to ensure that Kelli has face-to-face contact with an instructor.
“Now that the entire school has one-on-one computing technology, we are confident that the quality level of technology instruction will continue to be available to all students,” Wolfgram said.
He noted that this experience with Kelli has been both challenging and rewarding for the district.
“It has helped us prepare for 21st-century technology,” Wolfgram said, “and prepare our teachers for curriculum and programming that is adaptable and understandable via the route of the Internet.”
Wolfgam said that Kelli is a vibrant part of the school community and the district is proud to be a part of her education.
“Kelli is first and foremost a fearless individual,” said Wolfgram. “She fully realizes the challenges associated with her heart condition and still approaches life with a can-do attitude. She is a unique and special individual that refuses to compromise who she is or be defined by her health diagnosis.”