Anna Kinsinger comes from a long lineage of educators: her father, an associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Cedarville University; her grandfather, a retired Fairborn industrial arts teacher; and her late great-grandmother, a one-room schoolhouse teacher in South Dakota. 

Kinsinger, who graduated from Cedarville University on May 1 with a degree in special education, is continuing the family trade. She has spent spring 2021 student teaching at Greene County Career Center in Xenia, Ohio, leading a classroom of 10, aged 17 to 21. 

Student teaching has allowed Kinsinger, a lifelong resident of Cedarville, Ohio, to grow as an educator, but it’s also provided her with the unique opportunity to lead a classroom alongside her 91-year-old grandfather and retired educator, John.

Kinsinger asked her grandfather, who leads basket-weaving classes at his retirement home in Otterbein, Ohio, to teach her students how to weave baskets.  

“My students really excel with step-by-step instructions,” she shared. “My grandfather teaches exactly that way: task oriented. I figured it was a shot in the dark, but I asked if he’d be willing to come in and lead a project.”

John immediately agreed to the project, clearing his schedule and preparing individual basket kits for the students to ensure they’d have all of the necessary materials. He taught his class at the career center between two Wednesdays in April.

“My students thought it was a blast,” Kinsinger said. “They were bewildered at how incredibly well he was leading, were super respectful and all completed their baskets.” 

Anna and John smile amongst students who display the baskets they made in John’s basket weaving class.
[Photo Credit: Cedarville University] Anna and John smile amongst students who display the baskets they made in John’s basket weaving class. 

As for her grandpa, Kinsinger hopes he will join her in the classroom again soon. 

“He keeps asking me, ‘Can I come back?’” she said. “We printed him the pictures we took in class so he always has the memory to look back on.” 

Beyond the skills of basket weaving, Kinsinger sees additional benefits from this family-educator collaboration.

“Many of my students have complicated home lives, and they expressed how much they loved having a grandfather figure in the class,” she said. “I think it was a really positive experience for them to see an example of a strong grandfather-granddaughter relationship.” 

“I’m also grateful to have been able to bond with my grandfather through the project,” Kinsinger added. “It’s been difficult since COVID to spend time with him, and this was a wonderful way to connect. He loves investing in his grandchildren’s lives, and he loves teaching. This was perfect.” 

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Special Education program, strong graduation, and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.