In April, my mom called me with the news that my high school
chemistry teacher, Mr. Metcalfe, who was rounding out his 42nd
year of teaching, had died from COVID-19. I knew him from class,
of course, but I also went to school with his son for 13
years and his family attended my grandparent’s church.
He was respected, loved and honored for his excellent teaching.
His funeral was an all-day parade of cars through the high school
parking lot, where community members waved and shouted
condolences to his family. My mom said the cars stretched down
the street for miles.
As a former teacher and principal in New Mexico who now works
with educators across the country for SREB, I shared many
educators’ concerns when the pandemic forced most schools online.
As the new school year starts, however, I’m discovering that some
of the digital tools we’ve learned to use while teaching online can
provide new ways for teachers to support students’ academic
Given the diverse array of urban,
rural and suburban schools and technology centers SREB serves,
you might assume that students’ school and classroom experiences
would vary more based upon where they live — for example, a
student in urban Atlanta compared to a student in rural South
Carolina — rather than the classroom or school in which they are
As schools and districts prepare for
the new year, student and staff safety is top of mind. Many are
buying extra cleaning supplies and developing protocols for
social distancing, wearing masks and proper hygiene.
At SREB, we hear daily from teachers and leaders in search of
strategies for delivering quality instruction while meeting
safety guidelines. They ask:
Things are tough for college
students right now. The COVID-19 crisis, which has disrupted life
everywhere, is “quite possibly the single most disruptive event
in American higher education in at least a half century,”
according to the Atlantic, one that has “left students scrambling
to wrangle flights home and pack up their dorm room.”
As we move further into the
COVID-19 crisis, rural schools across the U.S. are struggling
with how to continue students’ learning amid school closures. In
recent weeks, SREB instruction coaches have been collaborating
with educators in our region on how to deliver learning
virtually, and we’ve learned about the specific challenges rural
schools are facing.