Teachers in America Podcast

Welcome to Teachers in America, HMH's podcast focused on the ever-changing learning landscape. From educators in the classroom to leaders outside the field of education, every moment on our podcast is a chance to create connections, share stories, and explore the ideas and innovations that will improve student outcomes and influence the future of K-12 education.

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What You'll Hear This Year On Teachers in America . . .

Season 2: Teachers in America Hosted by Noelle Morris

We're delighted to bring back Teachers in America, hosted by HMH's Director of Content and Programming, Noelle Morris. Learn more about Noelle in this Q&A. Subscribe now to be the first to hear each teacher's unique story.

Episode schedule (subject to change):

  • January 21, 2020: Words from a Teacher Influencer Feat. LaQuisha Hall
    More information available here, including photos and a transcript.
    This is part one of a three-part arc featuring teachers who have found their home across the state of Maryland. We start in the state's capital, Baltimore. Our guest is LaQuisha Hall, a 17-year teaching veteran who currently teaches English language arts (ELA) at Carver Vocational-Technical High School in Baltimore City Public Schools. In 2018, she was the Teacher of the Year for Baltimore. She is also the founder of the girls’ mentoring program Queendom T.E.A., the Baltimore branch of Project LIT, and the SheRose Awards which honors the unsung “sheroses” of sexual assault and domestic violence. LaQuisha is an outspoken survivor of childhood sexual abuse and is now passionate about supporting young women who are survivors and preventing further abuse from happening.
  • February 11, 2020: Wearing the Kindness Cape Feat. Julia Allan
    More information available here, including photos and a transcript.
    This episode is part two in our three-part arc across Maryland. After first visiting Baltimore, we now travel to a suburb of the capital, Ellicott City. But while LaQuisha grew up in North Carolina and found a home in Baltimore through teaching, Julia Allan always knew that Howard County was her home. After changing careers at age 30, now Julia teaches Kindergarten (in the same classroom where she was a kindergartener) at Northfield Elementary School, part of the Howard County Public School System.
  • March 10, 2020: Becoming a History Teacher Feat. Debra Reynolds
    More information available here, including photos and a transcript.
    This is the third and final episode in our arc covering Maryland teachers. After visiting LaQuisha in Baltimore and Julia in the surrounding suburbs, what is life like for a teacher out on Maryland's Eastern Shore? Ms. Debra Reynolds is in her 3rd year teaching Social Studies at Wicomico Middle School, part of Wicomico County Public Schools—but much like Julia, Salisbury, Maryland, has always been the place Debra knew was her home.
  • March 24, 2020: Noelle Morris: Host of Teachers in America!
    More information available here.
    Meet your host, Noelle Morris, a former teacher and HMH's Director of Content and Programming, in this Q&A.
  • May 4, 2020: Displaced Katrina Student Comes Home to Teach Feat. Chris Dier
    More information available here, including photos and transcript.
    On this episode we picked up a King Cake and headed over to Chalmette High School in St. Bernard's Parish, just outside of New Orleans, LA. There we met up with World History and AP Human Geography teacher, Chris Dier. After being uprooted by Hurricane Katrina in his senior year of high school, Chris returned to teach in the same classroom where his mother taught. He is author of the book The 1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre, and is the 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year.
  • May 26, 2020: Homeschooling During COVID-19 Feat. Debra Liese
    More information available here, including photos and transcript.
    On our very first Teachers in America minisode, we sat down with mother and former educator Debra Liese to discuss how COVID-19 has changed the way our children learn, and how parents are coping in the midst of school closures.
  • June 16, 2020: On Virtual Learning & BLM Protests Feat. Bianca Cole
    More information available here, including photos and transcript.
    In this minisode, we connected with middle school teacher Bianca Cole to find out what it's like to teach not only her class, but her son, during these times of major change in America—from the effects of COVID-19 on Seattle to the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place across the country.
  • June 23, 2020: Overcoming Trauma in Parkland, FL Feat. Sarah Lerner
    More information available here, including photos and transcript.
    When we planned our episode lineup for the year, we knew we’d like to talk to Sarah Lerner. Sarah is an advisor for the yearbook and an English and journalism teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, 2018, 17 individuals at the school lost their lives to gun violence.
    In the aftermath of this tragedy, Sarah and her students wrote and published an award-winning yearbook in the space of a few months honoring the victims. Sarah is passionate about mental health and advocating for gun reform. She was a finalist for the Florida Scholastic Press Association teacher of the year, and a recipient of both the CSPA 2019 Gold Key Award and CSPA 2020 Special Distinction Adviser Award. She also oversaw the publication of the student written anthology Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories.
  • July 28, 2020: Amplifying Student Voices Feat. Kelly Harper
    More information available here, including transcript.
    Our guest for this episode is Kelly Harper, a third-grade teacher at Mary Bethune Elementary in Atlanta, Georgia and winner of the 2019 District of Columbia Teacher of the Year Award. When Kelly was earning her Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College, her goal was to become a prosecutor and work towards dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. By the time she graduated, she knew that the best way to do that was as a teacher, where she might make a lasting difference in students' lives, and champion their voices.
  • August 11, 2020: From ELL Student to HS Math Teacher Feat. Priyank Bhatt
    More information available here, including transcript.
    Meet Priyank Bhatt, a math teacher at West Side High School in Newark,
    New Jersey under principal Akbar Cook. This is the first of a two-part Teachers in America episode. When Priyank was a child, he moved from India to the U.S., and learned English with the help of a dedicated ESL teacher and by
    watching cartoons with his friends. Even while he was grappling with the
    language barrier, Priyank discovered that math was universal, and began
    to tutor his friends when they struggled in class. By the time he was
    pursuing a master’s in education from Montclair State University, he had
    also begun working in Newark as an urban educator and has been there
    ever since.
  • August 18, 2020: Teaching During COVID-19 Feat. Priyank Bhatt
    More information available here, including transcript.
    This is the second in a two-part episode featuring Priyank Bhatt. When our first episode was recorded, Mr. Pri was teaching in-person at West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey. Soon after our discussion, school closures took place, and remote learning became the norm for classrooms across the country. At one point, New Jersey was at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. We wanted to catch up with Priyank in order to find out how he was doing and what measures his school had taken in order to adapt to the students' social, emotional, and educational needs.
  • September 9, 2020: On Being a POC in Academic Spaces Feat. Dr. Chris Emdin
    More information available here, including transcript.

    This episode's special guest is Dr. Chris Emdin, an Associate Professor of Science Education at Columbia University. Chris works to support diverse students in their STEM learning through an understanding of race and culture. He is a director at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education, and an associate director at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Columbia. He has also been a guest and contributor on PBS, TEDX, NBC, and CBS, just to name a few. Chris is the founder of Science Genius and HipHopEd, a nonprofit educational organization that boosts student voice by utilizing youth culture. His articles can be found in the New York Times and The Atlantic. He is also author of White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll Too, a New York Times best-seller.

  • September 15, 2020: Embrace Being Wrong, Applaud Being Right Feat. Sharon Biava
    More information available here, including transcript.
    Sharon Biava is a 4th grade math teacher at Silver Lakes Elementary in Miramar, Florida, part of Broward County Public Schools. This is the first of a two-part Teachers in America episode. A proud single mother of twins, Sharon has been an educator for 18 years after two successful careers in finance and healthcare marketing. She is a coach for both the speech and debate team and the chess team, and is passionate about literacy, civics, and equity for all students.
  • September 22, 2020: Virtual Learning During COVID-19 Feat. Sharon Biava
    More information available here, including transcript.
    This is the second in a two-part episode featuring Sharon Biava. When we last left off with Sharon, she was teaching math at Silver Lakes Elementary with her looping classroom. After COVID-19 shuttered schools across the country, we caught up with Sharon to find out how she was adapting to virtual learning, how she was keeping her students engaged during their online lessons, and how she was taking care of herself in the midst of all of
    the changes.
  • October 6, 2020: Finding Acceptance as an Immigrant Student Feat. Margarita Lezama
    More information available here, including transcript.
    Meet Margarita Lezama, a middle school ESL and ESOL teacher at Brownsville Middle School, part of Miami-Dade Public Schools in Miami, Florida. When she was a child, Margarita and her family fled the political situation in Nicaragua and immigrated to Mexico before seeking asylum in the United states in 1983. She now teaches a large immigrant population and relates with her students on topics like coping with culture shock, learning English, and facing discrimination. Margarita encourages her students to strive for higher education and set goals for themselves to pursue their passions.
  • October 27, 2020: The Future of Journalism Feat. Karl Grubaugh
    More information available here, including transcript.
    Karl Grubaugh is a former AP economics teacher and advanced journalism advisor at Granite Bay High School, part of the Roseville Joint Union High School District in California. In 2020, Karl retired after almost 40 years as an educator and over 30 years in the journalism business. The student newspaper that he advised, The Granite Bay Gazette, has been inducted into the high school journalism Hall of Fame and is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Pacemaker, Quill and Scroll, and Gold Crown.
  • November 17, 2020: A Seat at the Peace Table Feat. Karen Johnston
    More information available here, including transcript.
    Karen Johnston is an elementary school teacher at Harriet Tubman Montessori, part of Crescent City Charter in New Orleans, Louisiana. Karen studied at The University of Southern Mississippi before she began her 14-year career in education. After working for Hattiesburg Public Schools, she relocated to New Orleans to join the founding staff at Harriet Tubman. Montessori schools utilize student-directed activities with mixed grade level classes and Karen currently teaches grades K through 2. She serves as the Chief of Staff for the Blue Campus at her school, where she helps build a comfortable and open learning
    environment for her students.
  • December 1, 2020: On Embracing Native Culture in Alaska Feat. Danielle Riha
    More information available here, including transcript.
    For the season finale, we were excited to speak with the Alaska Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year Award in 2019, Danielle Riha. Danielle teaches middle school at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in Anchorage, but before moving to the city, she worked on the slime line and taught Indigenous populations in rural Alaska. By recognizing biases and incorporating more relatable topics into her classroom, Danielle was able to make her lessons more suitable for her students. When she was asked to help start a charter school, she and her colleagues worked with parents and elders in the community in order to design a curriculum that would best suit the students’ needs. Danielle is passionate about equity, Indigenous languages, and culturally relevant lessons that help students engage with their learning.

Previously on Teachers in America . . .

Season 1: Teachers in America Hosted by Rose Else-Mitchell

We debuted Teachers in America in May 2019 with season one of our cornerstone series, Teachers in America, featuring the incredible stories of real teachers—and we are so honored to share their stories with you. Listen to their stories. Hear more from the teachers we talked to in 2019.

Previously on Shaping the FutureTM . . .

Season 1: Shaping the Future Hosted by Dr. David Dockterman

Shaping the Future is hosted by Dr. David Dockterman (Dock), an education lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as he talks to both education experts and thought leaders from other industries. Together, they examine leading K-12 industry issues and offer insights for educators to best shape the future of education. Listen here to learn about the future of the workforce, civics education in a changing world, and media literacy in the digital era.


Please consider rating, reviewing, and sharing Teachers in America with your network. We value our listeners' support and feedback. Email us at Shaped@hmhco.com.


This page was originally published on May 6, 2019, and has been updated multiple times since publication.

SHAPING THE FUTURE is a trademark of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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