Learning Moments: Teachers in America Podcast Season 2

Season two of HMH Learning Moments: Teachers in America continues to feature the incredible stories of real teachers—and we are so honored to share their stories with you, our listeners. Hear firsthand from the people who are shaping young lives in classrooms around the country every day.

Listen below to each episode and find links to full transcripts of the conversations and behind-the-scenes photos. Subscribe now to be the first to hear each teacher's unique story.

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Words from a Teacher Influencer Feat. LaQuisha Hall

LaQuisha Hall (right) with Noelle Morris (left), host of Teachers in America.

Air date: January 21, 2020
Season 2, Episode 1 (S2E01)

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. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @MrsHallScholars.

Wearing the Kindness Cape Feat. Julia Allan

Air date: February 11, 2020
Season 2, Episode 2 (S2E02)

More information available here, including photos and a transcript.

Part two in our three-part arc featuring Maryland teachers. 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.

Becoming a History Teacher Feat. Debra Reynolds

Air date: March 10, 2020
Season 2, Episode 3 (S2E03)

More information available here, including photos and a transcript.

This is the third and last episode in our arc covering Maryland teachers. After visiting LaQuisha in Baltimore and Julia in the nearby suburbs, what is life like for a teacher two hours away on peninsula of Maryland's Eastern Shore? Ms. Debra Reynolds is in her 3rd year teaching World History at Wicomico Middle School, part of Wicomico County Public Schools—and much like Julia knew, Debra has always known that her hometown is where she wanted to stay.

Meet Your Host: Noelle Morris

Air date: March 24, 2020 Season 2, Episode 3.5 (S2E03.5)
More information available here.

Meet your season two host, Noelle Morris, a former teacher and HMH's Director of Content and Programming, in this Q&A.


Displaced Katrina Student Comes Home to Teach Feat. Chris Dier

Air date: May 4, 2020
Season 2, Episode 4 (S2E04)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

Homeschooling During COVID-19 Feat. Debra Liese

Air date: May 26, 2020
Season 2, Episode 5 (S2E05)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

On Virtual Learning & BLM Protests Feat. Bianca Cole

Air date: June 16, 2020
Season 2, Episode 6 (S2E06)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

Overcoming Trauma in Parkland, FL Feat. Sarah Lerner

Air date: June 23, 2020
Season 2, Episode 7 (S2E07)

More information available here, including photos and a transcript.

Sarah Lerner is an advisor for the yearbook and an English and journalism teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 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.

Amplifying Student Voices Feat. Kelly Harper

Air date: July 28, 2020
Season 2, Episode 8 (S2E08)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

From ELL Student to HS Math Teacher Feat. Priyank Bhatt

Full Episode Air date: August 11, 2020
Season 2, Episode 9 (S2E09)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

Follow Up Episode Air date: August 18, 2020
Season 2, Episode 10 (S2E10)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

On Being a POC in Academic Spaces Feat. Dr. Chris Emdin

Air date: September 9, 2020
Season 2, Episode 11 (S2E11)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

Embrace Being Wrong, Applaud Being Right Feat. Sharon Biava

Full Episode Air date: September 15, 2020
Season 2, Episode 12 (S2E12)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

Follow Up Episode Air date: September 22, 2020
Season 2, Episode 13 (S2E13)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

Finding Acceptance as an Immigrant Student Feat. Margarita Lezama

Full Episode Air date: October 6, 2020
Season 2, Episode 14 (S2E14)

More information available here, including photos and a transcript.

Margarita Lezama is 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.

The Future of Journalism Feat. Karl Grubaugh

Full Episode Air date: October 27, 2020
Season 2, Episode 15 (S2E15)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

An experienced reporter writer and editor, Karl was named the 2008 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year by the Dow Jones News Fund.

A Seat at the Peace Table Feat. Karen Johnston

Full Episode Air date: November 17, 2020
Season 2, Episode 16 (S2E16)

More information available here, including photos and a 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.

Stay tuned for future episodes!

More details and air dates for 2020 will be announced soon! If you or a teacher you know would like to be featured in a future episode of Teachers in America, email us at Shaped@hmhco.com.

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