December 7, 2020

Catching Up with School Leaders Navigating COVID-19

By Tresha Ward | Indira Dammu

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2020 was filled with unprecedented challenges for schools nationwide. In the midst of a global pandemic, educators had to balance prioritizing the social and emotional needs of students with ensuring high-quality instruction – all while also focusing on their own families and health. And as we learned more about the impact of COVID-19 on students and families, schools and districts felt the pressure to adjust and adapt their practices. 

Now, almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began – and as related social challenges persist – how have school leaders fared and what lessons have they learned? What progress have they made, and what are they taking away (or leaving behind) from this incredibly challenging academic year? 

Bellwether interviewed three school leaders (some of whom have used our COVID-19 Strategic Planning Toolkit), to learn more about how they have responded to COVID-19. We asked them to reflect on instructional practices that have shown promise, their use of student data, and strategies they intend to continue using in the school years ahead. In sharing their stories, we hope these important lessons and promising practices can serve as a model for all educators.

Click the videos below to watch our short interviews with each school leader. 


Daniela Anello
D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School
Washington, D.C. 

“One of the things we realized we needed to become really comfortable with and do well was connecting with each family individually and checking in on them on a weekly basis.” 


Jessica Nauiokas
Mott Haven Academy Charter School
Bronx, NY 

“A huge priority for us was to really think about, ‘How do we lift students’ voices and their choice in the types of things we’re asking them to do in this remote world?’”


Jennifer Benavides
Fox Tech High School
San Antonio, TX

“Because of the challenges that families have now, teachers don’t always get students 100 percent of the time every day. So when we do capture kids, we have to rethink what we’re doing with them through that time, and how we can capture mastery of content with the time that we have.”

Click here for additional COVID-19 resources for educators.

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