Back to school in 2021: #RealTalk from teachers

SEP 28, 2021

In this webinar recording, we'll cover:

  • 1

    What our panel wishes they knew two years ago (and what they're doing differently because of it)

  • 2

    The biggest wins they pulled off, and recommendations for how you can replicate them

  • 3

    The reality of learning disparities in classrooms today, and how administrators can support teachers in addressing them

Speaker Details

Speaker Headshot

Lekena Ackerman

8th grade social studies teacher, South Carolina

Lekena Ackerman is a Social Studies teacher at Southeast Middle School in Hopkins, South Carolina. She has her Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies from Ashford University. Mrs. Ackerman has been a teacher with Richland One since 2015. She is currently serving as the Southeast Middle School Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021 and has been honored by the South Carolina Bar Association as the 2020 SC Law Related Ed Middle School Teacher of the Year. A highlight of her career so far came in September of 2020 when she was featured along with her students on NBC’s Today Show highlighting how teachers are able to come up with creative ways to teach lessons during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Speaker 2 Headshot

Carla Neely

5th and 6th grade science teacher, Ohio

Carla has been a teacher for 22 years. She was recently featured on Good Morning America about back to school 2021. All of her experience is with urban schools. Currently she is the 4th and 5th grade science teacher at an all-girls school. She is also in charge of the 4th and 5th grade virtual science club for my school in which the students participate in STEM related projects and novel studies.

Speaker 3 Headshot

Carolyn Kim

4th grade teacher, California

Carolyn has over 20 years of experience in education. Her teaching journey has allowed her to work with students from all learning styles and backgrounds. She has taught grades K-6 as both a classroom teacher and a Reading Intervention (RTI) instructor. She has also taught grades 7-12 as a Social Science/History teacher. She is currently teaching 4th grade.


Dan Cogan-Drew

Co-founder and Chief Academic Officer, Newsela

Dan brings twenty-plus years of professional experience spent working towards a more perfect union of teaching, learning and technology. Prior to Newsela, Dan was the founding Director of Digital Learning at Achievement First Public Charter Schools, where he spearheaded the integration of digital learning technologies across the network. He began his education career in Teach for America and went on to teach in public and private schools, as well as in the US Navy. He holds degrees from Wesleyan University, Brown University, and Tufts University.

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