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A Year of Learning: Reimagining What’s Possible

So many are calling this the 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

December 17, 2020

Our corps member and alumni educators are giving their all to ensure that this is not a year of lost learning. As we bid farewell to 2020, we asked some of these phenomenal leaders to share what this year of learning has been like for them.

Year of Virtuous Learning

Sharikah Patton (CPT '20), a second grade teacher at Northwood Elementary in High Point, North Carolina, describes her students' year of learning in these terms: "This is a year of virtuous learning. Now that my second grade class has ventured back to in-person learning, I have realized that the majority of my class has fallen behind due to virtual learning. I've had to take some steps back to ensure that my students are empowered to succeed. ⁣⁣

"They are showing tremendous improvement and have been putting in the extra work to surpass expectations. I've been transparent with their families so that they are able to work just as hard at home. I hold them to a high standard, but they hold me to an even higher standard. ⁣Virtual learning has been difficult but I still expect my students to achieve classroom goals, and they expect me to effectively lead!"

© Photo Photo provided by ENC STEM and featured in an Education NC article. A group of ENC STEM students collaborates together in a Google spreadsheet to recreate an image of Mona Lisa by adding pixels. Photo provided by ENC STEM and featured in an Education NC article.

Year of Student-Led Learning

This has been a year of student-led learning For ENC STEM Executive Director, Elaina Sabatine (ENC ‘11). Rather than cancel summer camp plans, Elaina and her team created an online community of learning for eager students. In an interview with Education NC, Elaina recounts some of the shifts that have taken place in ENC STEM’s seven-year existenceone of the most notable being that students are now represented on the leadership team and participate in strategic planning. “This is a program whose ownership really resides in the community with our students and their families,” Elaina says.

“As we embark on the 2020-21 academic school year, we don’t see challenges—rather we reimagine our learning to enhance our daily experiences.”

Marcia Moyd

Charlotte-Piedmont Triad Corps Member 2017

Year of Social-Emotional Learning

For Ellen Rayburn (CPT '10) and her students at Charlotte Lab School, this has been a year of social-emotional learning. ⁣

Ellen, who teaches middle school English and language arts, says, "I look forward to my hour each afternoon with my advisory group of eigth graders at Charlotte Lab School. After the morning of synchronous remote learning, we come together virtually to socialize and to discuss the challenges they're facing, both academically and personally.” 

This support has made a world of difference during a challenging season.

“We all leave feeling valued, seen, and supported,” Ellen says. “This special advisory time has been especially important this year as our students are having to adapt to online instruction, social isolation, and pandemic anxiety...on top of being middle schoolers!"⁣


Since Christal's students weren’t able to travel to the pumpkin patch, Christal and her school team brought the pumpkins to them so they had the opportunity to get outside and safely pick their favorites.

Year of Resilient Learning

Christal Garry (ENC '20), a Kindergarten teacher at Creedmoor Elementary School of the Arts in Granville County, shares that her year has been one of resilient learning. 

“Looking back on this challenging year, three things that I have learned are: you cannot control things that are out of your control; compassion is key—everyone is going through something—but their something may be different than your something,” Christal says. “This has been a year of continuous change. I try not to look too forward into the future; rather, I stay in the now.⁣

"What gives me hope is that I know it can't storm forever—eventually the storm calms and beauty will fill around us. We just have to wait and embrace what is to come.”⁣

Christal is holding on to the word “resilient” to describe her year of learning alongside her students: “We succeed because we are resilient. We keep pushing forward and never give up because we are resilient. Our students are resilient.”⁣


Year of Reimagined Learning

Marcia Moyd (CPT ‘17), a third grade expanded impact teacher at Gillespie Park Elementary ⁣in Greensboro, is refusing to let this be a year of lost learning for her students; rather, this has been a year of reimagined learning for them. ⁣⁣

“At the start of the school year my students and I were trying to determine a class theme,” Marcia explains. “We began by listing everything that we knew to be true about our class. We established that we were third graders, engaging in full remote learning at the start of the school year for the first time ever. We also knew it to be true that this year was going to bring forth a lot of first-time experiences for each of us. One student announced that we were third grade pioneers.” 

Indeed, this has been a year marked by reimagining what is possible: “As we embark on the 2020-21 academic school year, we don’t see challenges—rather we reimagine our learning to enhance our daily experiences," Marcia says. ⁣⁣

You can see Brooke here with her students proudly sharing one of their many creative activities: coloring and designing paper turkeys.

Year of Creative Learning

Brooke Kowalski (ENC ‘19) teaches kindergarten students at Lakeforest Elementary in Pitt County and describes her year of learning as one filled with creativity. 

She shares, “Thinking of ways to make virtual learning engaging and inviting has been challenging, so I've definitely had to think outside the box to give an authentic school experience for my students. I've gone through a lot of stamps already, sending home handwritten letters and craft kits so that students can have those memorable keepsakes from kindergarten. We do a lot of science experiments and virtual scavenger hunts that take some time to put together, but are important in maintaining that classroom feel.”