PLCS elementary school gives teacher a graduation surprise

BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - Ainslee Christensen is a special education teacher at Golden Hills Elementary school. She knew she was destined for the classroom at a young age.

"I've known that I wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten," Christensen explained.

For her, teaching is much more than assignments or lesson plans.

"Love your students unconditionally. Take them as they come," Christensen said.

She describes the classroom as one of her favorite places, which is why going to get her masters in curriculum and instruction from Doane University a no brainer.

"I just completed my research project and was able to graduate on Sunday," the new grad said.

But Sunday's wreck on I-80 westbound kept her from graduation.

"I was very bummed, I know it was important for my family to see me walk across the stage," Christensen said.

She posted what happened on Facebook and that's when Priscilla Bowden, a title one reading teacher, and Kelsey Dayan, a special education teacher, got an idea.

Instead of walking across the stage, a stroll through a hallway filled with students cheering her on and congratulating her accomplishment.

"Ainslee needed to celebrate and be celebrated," Bowden said.

"The kids were so excited," Dayan said. "When I was like 'We're going to go celebrate Ms. Christensen's graduation.' What'd she graduate? And I was like she has her master's degree. And they didn't really know what it meant. But they were like okay, this is great."

Because this teacher's graduation wouldn't be complete without her students.

"I remember on Sunday how driving there, even before we got stopped 'ah it would have been really cool if I could see my kids today if they were there.' But yesterday they were and that was super cool." Christensen said.

The graduation celebration didn't stop there, a professor who taught Ainslee Christensen in undergrad and her graduate courses made the trek from Crete to Bellevue to deliver her diploma.

"It will be something that I cherish the rest of my life," she said. "Not just because of what the physical paper means but also all of the stuff that's come with it, this week."