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Meet Wilma Howard Klein: Kentucky’s first “distance educator”

Photo via UKNow

While the Coronavirus continues to impact the world’s day-to-day life, everyone from elementary school students to CEOs of large corporations are making adjustments to search for a sense of normalcy while preventing the spread of the disease. For a lot of people, that means the video conferencing software ZOOM has simply become part of their “new” normal.

Although this form of technology and social distancing may be new, distance learning didn’t start when COVID-19 shut down schools and businesses across the globe. Wilma Howard Klein, a UK College of Education alumna, pioneered distance-learning efforts decades ago. She conducted the first instructional TV program in Kentucky in 1957 in order to enrich teachers’ curriculum across the state.

Klein served as an educator in Kentucky for 30 years, beginning in 1953 as a third grade teacher at Fairdale Elementary School in Jefferson County. She retired in 1983 as the principal of Beechwood Elementary School in Fort Mitchell. During that time, she also spent 18 years as a television instructor with Jefferson County Public Schools’ Channel 15.

“The show made it possible for students to see things they could not see unless they went on a field trip,” Klein said in a recent story with UK. “We could also conduct experiments that might be difficult to do in the classroom.”

Klein went on to teach at the college level several times, including as a adjunct professor at UK in the 1960s. At that time, she worked with audio visual education to help fellow teachers better understand the possibilities that could arise from implementing new technologies into their classrooms.

Klein’s innovation and commitment to education were recognized in 2017 when she was presented the Alumni Excellence Award and inducted into the UK College of Education’s Hall of Fame. For more on Klein’s life, accomplishments and continued contributions to education in Kentucky, check out UK’s feature story here.


Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)