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Student uses robot to attend school in Anne Arundel County

By Tim Tooten

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    ARNOLD, Maryland (WBAL) — An Anne Arundel County student is taking remote classes not via Zoom, but through a robot.

Technology is making a difference in the lives of young people, especially in the classroom — but that may be an understatement for Kate Rimel.

A robot is helping the 14-year-old keep pace after she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Kate attends Magothy River Middle School in Arnold. Since September, she has attended classes from home by way of a robot she controls from her laptop.

Kate said she didn’t know what to expect when offered the opportunity.

“I was thinking of like a Storm Trooper, Transformer, something like that,” Kate said, “but it was amazing when I saw how it was able to just roll around and move.”

John Noon, principal of Magothy River Middle, said the robot has proven beneficial.

“She’s a great student. The ability to allow her to stay focused on that, and not just on her health, I think gave her a boost each day,” Noon said.

It took Anne Arundel County Public Schools only a couple of days to find a robot, and then to make sure it got to campus.

Kiersten Hepting is Kate’s eighth grade counselor. Hepting says the robot is good for more than just learning.

“From day one, she’s been continuing her academics. She’s got straight A’s still (and) she communicates with family and friends via the robot,” Hepting said.

WBAL-TV 11 News met with Kate and her family to get a closer look at the robot and its impact.

“When I was able to start doing the robot, it completely changed everything, because I was getting the learning, I was getting the slides, I was getting the work and I was also able to just talk with my friends,” Kate said. “When I wanted to communicate with teachers easier, it was really amazing.”

Her parents said they’re grateful for how the school district responded to her needs.

“We can’t thank the teachers and the principal and the county (enough),” said Kate’s mom, Amy Rimel.

“Just the thought to invest in this technology in case somebody ever needed it,” said Kate’s dad, Robert Rimel. “I heard that every cluster in the Anne Arundel school district has one. Thankfully, they are not using all of them right now. We were able to get two for Kate in our school.”

Kate has started making periodic visits back to school, but most of her learning is still taking place with the help of her district-issued robot and a few committed friends, like Lilly Dameron.

“I know that she’s not able to come to school, so it’s important for me to make sure she can learn like everyone else,” said Lilly.

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