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A Continued Year of Learning: Reimagining What’s Possible

So many are describing this as a year of lost learning—but not us. Hear from educators on what they are calling this year.

Photo of student learning virtually on computer with "Year of Lost (crossed out) Learning"

By Sara-Kay Mooney

January 13, 2021

Our corps member and alumni educators are giving their all to ensure that this is not a year of lost learning. As we enter into 2021, we asked some of these phenomenal leaders to share what this year of learning has been like for them. And when you need an additional dose of what's possible, check out part one of this series.

Year of Empathetic Learning

For first-year corps member Julia Horton (CPT '20), a fourth grade teacher at Albemarle Road Elementary School, this has been a year of empathetic learning.⁣

Julia shares, "I have been able to reach my students academic needs by catering to their social and emotional needs. This year has been chaotic and having the opportunity to sit with my kids and their families to check on individual needs in an empathetic way has allowed for a more personalized and beneficial environment. These check-ins have ultimately fostered deeper relationships for me and my scholars." ⁣

Year of Synthesized Learning

Teresa Bovia (ENC ‘19) has had a year of synthesized learning with her kindergarten students at KIPP Halifax Primary School.⁣

“The thing that gives me hope is watching our students soak up a lot of information in a fast-paced environment and grow! In kindergarten, it’s like watching children walk for the first time as they get onset-rime, blend and segment words, and start reading for the first time on their own! We get to celebrate a lot of milestones with them and they're like a ray of hope each step along the way!” ⁣

Teresa also acknowledges that synthesized learning was happening in the midst of a racial reckoning and global health pandemic in our country.

“Over this past year, listening to the stories of those who’ve lost their loved ones to COVID-19 and watching how devalued Black and brown lives are in our country, I’ve learned how precious our lives are and how important it is for me to make sure my children and our Black and brown students know how beautiful, intelligent, and capable they are. They are worthy of love!” ⁣

Our students are worthy of love—and that’s why our network of educators like Teresa show up for them every day.


Alum Rob Leichner is pictured top right with his team on a virtual team call.

Year of Team Learning

For alum Rob Leichner (CPT '04), a secondary math curriculum specialist for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), this has been a year of team learning. ⁣⁣

Rob has seen the power of team show up in countless ways, including, "The way our community worked as a team to ensure every student in Charlotte has access to technology and hot spots. The way our district became a team to support our students in their classes, their social-emotional learning, and even their specials and sports. And most importantly, the ways our teachers became a team to support our students and their learning. As they have been managing their own families, fears, and situations, our teachers have still worked so hard to not only care for and support our students, but keep their education going." ⁣

"This is not a lost year of education. Our kids are learning adaptability, technology, and math, and our teachers are continuing to learn new teaching strategies and ways to connect with kids. Our CMS team, with the most amazing teachers in the world, has made sure education will continue and not return to normal, but be better and more equitable than normal in 2021." ⁣⁣

“This is not a lost year of education. Our kids are learning adaptability, technology, and math, and our teachers are continuing to learn new teaching strategies and ways to connect with kids.”

Rob Leichner

Charlotte-Piedmont Triad Corps Member 2004

Year of English-Proficiency Learning

This has not been a year of lost learning for CJ Alfonso (CPT '18) and the students he teaches at Garinger High School in Charlotte; rather, it's been English-proficiency learning. ⁣⁣

"My school has a large English Language Learner (ELL) population. Oftentimes, my students who are not native English speakers have difficulty interacting with the work and lesson due to the language barrier," CJ explains. "But since we transitioned to online learning, it's easier for me to teach in English as well as their native tongue by utilizing Google Translate in the chat box." ⁣⁣

CJ describes what has turned out to a silver lining of the move to virtual learning: "My students have been more interactive and confident answering questions since we've both had access to these translation tools throughout the semester."⁣

Year of Flexible Learning

Second-year corps member Lauren Mounts has had a year of flexible learning with her middle school students at Halifax Early College. ⁣

Lauren kept it real with us and picked an image that embodies her experience of virtual learning with students, and will most likely resonate with educators everywhere. "The image I included is of some of my students’ foreheads, because that is usually all I see.” ⁣

Lauren’s students and fellow teachers have embraced the flexibility this year has offered and tried new things in the classroom. She says: “There is no ‘instructional framework’ for teaching virtually during a global pandemic, so I learned to keep trying different methods of teaching until I found what (sort of) worked for me and my students. I have learned that a fully virtual environment presents a unique opportunity to change the way we do education, because the virtual platform allows for more collaboration amongst teachers, as well as team teaching. Collaboration and team teaching increase student exposure to culturally relevant pedagogy and different methods for solving math problems.” 

Alum Kristi Orange's son is in third grade this year and she says she has watched him take the reigns of his education beyond assignments and into his use of technology, advocating for himself exploring content creatively.

Year of Empowered Learning

Alum and TFA-CPT staff member Kristi Orange (GNO '09) says that this school year has been a year of empowered learning. ⁣⁣


From Kristi: "As both a parent and a coach of teachers, I’ve been able to see firsthand how empowering this experience can be for students. My son (pictured above) is in third grade this year and I’ve watched him take the reigns of his education beyond staying on top of assignments and going to class on time. ⁣

"His ease in using technology, advocating for himself when he needs more support, strengthening his use of written communication, improvement of executive functioning skills, and the creative ways he’s explored content is truly incredible.⁣⁣


"The silver lining in this experience is that our children are living 21st-century learning and cultivating the resilience to conquer any challenge set before them. I have so much faith in our students and am confident in the leaders they are becoming each day."