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SONIC Teacher of the Month: Learning from 2020 and the Resiliency of Educators

With the holiday season upon us and the end of 2020 nearing, Teacher of the Month LaTosha Reese exhibits how teachers have remained strong and determined to provide an engaging, safe learning environment for students during an unparalleled year. Reese shared how she has adapted to support her students, how we can help teachers amid shifts in classroom needs and what inspires her positive outlook approaching the new year. 

  • Location: Kansas City, Missouri
  • Grade Levels: 6th-12th
  • Years of Teaching: 20

How have your classroom needs changed? What types of learning supplies or resources do you need most?
Since the pandemic, my classroom needs have been both traditional and hygiene based. For in-school students, sanitizers and tissue in workstations to eliminate one point of contract. Desks with carrels would be a great safety measure. For virtual students, virtual differentiation reading software programs would be useful.

What advice do you have for fellow educators during this time?
My advice to fellow educators is just to continue to be strong and resilient. Let’s model how we can be at our best even during difficult times. Now is the time to demonstrate that we are lifelong learners and allow ourselves, as well as our students, some grace.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
My most rewarding part of the job is working with young people, who enjoy learning. They light up when you start to evaluate their learning. You see the spark in their eyes and the excitement as they learn in a new way!

What is your favorite project that has received funding from SONIC Drive-In, and why?
My favorite project to receive funding from SONIC Drive-In is “Flex & Learn.” From the project, we were able to use our folders and pencils to implement reading stations and our school-wide Response to Intervention reading program! Students have been able to use bean bags in their own cozy corners. The learning easel and markers have been a delight to students practicing independent phonics skills.

What tips do you have for fellow educators who want to get started with Donors Choose and Limeades for Learning?
I would encourage fellow educators to take a few moments to think of all the wonderful ways that they can create dynamic learning environments with the support of people who want to help us create a love for lifelong learning!

What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned in 2020 that you look forward to incorporating in 2021?
I have learned to Zoom with vitality and look forward to using technology platforms to differentiate learning in a socially safe environment, traditionally, hybrid, or virtually. When life throws us lemons, we can make Limeades for Learning. 😊

How are you celebrating the holidays with your students this year?
We hope to have a donated Christmas tree soon! Each student will place a hope bulb, a message they create in the bulb, onto the tree to symbolize their bright outlook and hope for the future!