December 11, 2020
Dear Friends of Knowles,
Each year that I write this letter for our annual report, I use it as an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together over the past year and think about the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. As I look back over the fiscal year that ended May 31, 2020, I can’t help but marvel at the unprecedented circumstances that we, and most of the world, are still trying to comprehend and navigate. While 2020 will forever be marked as the year a global pandemic changed almost every aspect of our lives, the Knowles Teacher Initiative entered that crisis still reeling from the loss of our beloved founder, C. Harry Knowles, who passed away on January 7, 2020.
Despite these trying, and at times overwhelming circumstances, the Knowles Teacher Initiative continues to thrive. In early March, we interviewed 71 finalists for our 2020 Teaching Fellowship, our last in-person event. Almost immediately after, we responded to state and local lock-down orders by transitioning to a fully remote workforce and began planning how to continue to support teachers virtually. Most of the Teaching Fellows’ spring meetings were virtual, as was the orientation for the 34 new Fellows in the 2020 Cohort. By April we decided that our annual Summer Conference would need to be virtual as well. We canceled our Knowles Academy courses for the summer, but decided instead to develop 90-minute, online short courses that we offered to teachers at no cost.
Although these transitions have been and continue to be challenging, and we miss the in-person interactions with educators, our staff has been unwavering in their commitment to providing high-quality professional support and development to teachers. In the Fellows’ stories below, you can read about some of the ways we’ve supported individual teachers to navigate this crisis. But we’ve also used this opportunity to build our experience and expertise in online professional development, which will eventually allow us to serve an even broader pool of science and math teachers throughout the country, even when it’s safe to meet in person once again.