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A Note of Gratitude and Reflection

December 17, 2020 | Anne Stanton

Dear friends and colleagues,

As we come to the end of a year like no other, I wanted to take the opportunity to share notes of gratitude and reflection with you. Our educators stepped up to face the unpredictable, ever-evolving challenges of pandemic teaching. Back in March, many of you left your classrooms, workshops, studio spaces, and students thinking you would be able to return to in-person teaching and learning in a few weeks. Months later, most schools remain closed. But high-quality college and career education continues to flourish.

Students remained connected with industry partners to continue work-based learning, persisted to complete performance assessments to demonstrate what they know and can do, and remained committed to their postsecondary plans. Your students told us what powered their persistence through the challenges of distance learning, and despite it all, how they continued on their path to purpose. And that is thanks to each and every one of you. Your tireless efforts have preserved the aspirations of so many of our nation’s most talented and driven young people.

On top of your responsibilities to students, pathways, and districts, you helped the Linked Learning field stretch new muscles and adapt to new virtual learning environments. As everything turned virtual, we witnessed the power of community. Our field used its collective expertise and shared strength to emerge stronger and more connected as a community of practice. You even helped us welcome four new staff members and three new board members to the Alliance team, deepening our work in policy, public will-building, and practice development.

Now at this time of triple crisis, for public health, for economic stability, for social justice, we stand together at a critical inflection point. We have a real opportunity to bridge the gap between high school and postsecondary to ensure our students realize the full benefits of education that combines college and career preparation.

In the coming weeks we will release new research on the postsecondary outcomes and experiences of Linked Learning students. Based on this emerging evidence base, we are eager to forge stronger connections between the proven strategies developed through over a decade of Linked Learning in K-12 and the innovations in higher education that will produce a seamless transition. We continue to explore creative ways to keep students linked to their communities and passions in high school and to celebrate the industry partners who make it happen. To that end, we will be releasing promising research on the Oakland Health Pathways Partnership in January. We look forward to sharing these findings with you and hearing ideas from the field about additional ways we can deepen our partnerships with essential industries in Linked Learning communities.

The Alliance is committed to amplifying the voices of young people, making their perspectives, needs, and aspirations known to decision makers. We will be hosting a student-led legislative briefing at the end of January where students will share their perspectives with policymakers, uplifting their voices and giving them a seat at the education policy and practice decision making table.

We have faced a year of insurmountable challenge. As we look ahead, we gather strength from the light we begin to see ahead and are energized by the power of collective action to continue forging a path forward. It’s exactly what the Linked Learning field has been doing for over a decade to bring meaning and motivation to the school day (whether at a distance or in-person). Let’s keep standing and acting together: to keep each and every person at the center of high-quality learning to achieve justice and build a better future to share. As we bid 2020 farewell, on behalf of the entire Linked Learning Alliance team, we wish you all a well-deserved, relaxing, and reenergizing winter break.

In community,
Anne Stanton
President, Linked Learning Alliance