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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Despite the historic trials of the 2020–2021 academic year, our educators and students not only made it through, they even came out on the other side with some unexpected gratitude for the year’s silver linings.

To wrap up the semester, we asked 16 of our DreamEducators: What is your proudest accomplishment from this school year? It’s our honor to share their uplifting reflections…

1. “My greatest accomplishment this year was successfully forming healthy relationships with my students and their families. I genuinely adore my students and I’ve appreciated them throughout the year.” — Vanavia Weatherly, Equipo Academy, Las Vegas, NV

2. “The silver lining is that it’s actually easier to arrange a flashchat now that everyone is virtual or in the classroom…it has normalized video calls so now when we do it with a DreamSpeaker, students are more familiar with the platform!” — Emily Jacobs, Dundee-Crown High School, Carpentersville, IL

3. “The greatest success of our 2020–21 year was watching students take control and ownership of their learning experiences: instead of focusing on the grade, or the completion of assignments, they began to see school as a transformative learning experience. Working with them online had its challenges, and although the day-to-day was much quieter online than in person, I feel as though I had deeper, more meaningful conversations about learning with a lot of kids one-on-one over Zoom.” — Kellie Rosenberger, Beaverton High School, Beaverton, OR

4. “Even during a very tough school year, DreamWakers has helped my students connect their in-class learning to the real world. In a year where it has been tough for students to engage, the DreamWakers flashchats we’ve hosted are always meaningful and impactful for my students.” — Breanna Holtz, Fifer Middle School, Camden, DE

5. “My greatest accomplishment this year is making it through an entire year of remote learning while still making a positive impact in the lives of our students, even from afar.” — Selina Cotton, East High School, Youngstown, OH

6. “Learning how to apply the flashchat with our ecological research analyst guest speaker into their ecosystem projects was super awesome!” — Lauren Gunnell-Beck, Central Davidson High School, Lexington, NC

7. “Getting to know students and their families on a more personal level, as well as growing as a professional in new ways.” — Sarah Teed, Hamilton High School, Moline, IL

Scholars at Revere Middle School learn about careers in STEM with Autodesk DreamSpeaker Brandon Cramer

8. “My first year co-teaching has CHANGED my game! Constant feedback has given me a chance to really invest in my students! — Brittany Keesecker, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, Pittsburgh, PA

9. “Connecting with students as much as I can. What seemed like inconsequential connections in past years have been so meaningful this year.” — Makeba Robinson, All Girl Conference, Harrisonburg, VA

10. “Thanks to DreamWakers, we had quality guest speakers to replace field trips. Also, giving more students a voice in the classroom. Students are more willing to share their feelings online than they are in person.” — Diane Mondoro, Livingston High School, Livingston, NJ

Livingston High School students chat with DreamSpeaker Emily Bullis

11. “I’m proud of my students being able to connect and share their anxiety and successes with me.” — Ilana Ascher, Chelsea High School, Chelsea, MA

12. “I am proud that even when our school went all virtual last March, we still were able to provide unique learning opportunities to our students. During a time when connection was the most difficult, we continued to prioritize the importance of inspiring students to dream big. It reminds me of the motto of the United States postal service — through rain and snow. Through school closings, online learning, alternate learning days, and COVID, our students and teachers persevered. Connections were made; dreams were created.” — Jennifer Barefoot, Grovetown Middle School, Grovetown, GA

13. “I have a student who is going to college for free!” — Hannah Webb, Central Massachusetts Collaborative, Worcester, MA

Ms. Ticola’s 5th graders go on a Peace Trail Virtual Tour

14. “In regards to the chats, I was amazed to see my elementary schoolers be excited to prepare for the chats. They learned how to research, and formulate questions. They came prepared the day of the chats with their notecards.” — Daphne Ticola, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL

15. “I am proud of the career and college website that our school counseling team created.” — Susan Perez, Stokoe Elementary School, Riverside, CA

16. “Although this year has been challenging, it has also provided opportunities for growth. From students, administration, and teachers, it was encouraging to see the teamwork, creativity, and resilience that came out of this challenging year.” — Jennifer M. Knoxville, Staunton High School, Staunton, VA

Thank you, DreamEducators, for sharing your uplifting reflections. In the darkest of days, you were a light to many, including our DreamWakers team. Though much work remains to be done, here’s to brighter horizons and awakening new career dreams in the year ahead!

Are you an educator looking to bring your lessons to life through conversation with career professionals? Join DreamWakers today!

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