A Message from Jerry Harris on the 2020-2021 School Year

A Message from Jerry Harris on the 2020-2021 School Year

The beginning of a new school year has historically conjured up visions of gleaming polished floors, freshly stocked classrooms, and the uncontainable excitement of students eager to see friends and find out who is going to be their teacher for the next 180 days. While these images are still part of our collective musings, we also find thoughts of social distancing, loss, and a myriad of additional challenges, both known and unknown, crowding into this idyllic mental landscape. We find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, making this school year profoundly different. Yet, in the most fundamental way, this year is the same as its predecessors in that there are still thousands of young people and their families looking to schools, specifically their teachers, to create a safe space for learning.

Our founder, the late Lloyd Cotsen, understood the power of the student and teacher dynamic. As a result, he established the Cotsen Foundation for ART of TEACHING to nurture the development of great teachers, who would bring life-changing magic to their charges. Mr. Cotsen wanted to ensure that boys and girls would experience at some point in their educational journeys, teachers who would help them change how they viewed themselves and the world, by challenging them and encouraging them to dream and achieve. I cannot think of a moment in recent history, when the transformative magic of great teachers has been needed more than it is now.

The Foundation’s Board and staff thank you for all you have done in preparation for this year, and we reaffirm our commitment to providing you with outstanding support in your quest towards instructional greatness in this new context. We have been busy over the past several months creating professional development opportunities that we trust you will find valuable.

Our goal has been to reimagine the provision of a full range of supports and resources so that you continue to grow your craft and refine the skills that are needed for effectively meeting the needs of students given our current reality.  To that end, we will offer all of our traditional trainings in Literacy, Math, and Science instruction as well as the Annual Conference online. In addition to the subject matter trainings, we have added sessions on Social Emotional Learning/Trauma and strategies for engaging students and partnering with parents virtually to this year’s professional development opportunities.  However, in order to best respond to your needs, the mode of workshop delivery will be reassessed throughout the course of the year. We are also extremely pleased to announce the creation of a special Alumni Portal that will be placed on our website to enhance the connection and sharing of resources for ART of TEACHING alumni teachers.

Mr. Cotsen once said, “Education can be a head game… an affair of the mind. But teaching is an affair of the heart.” We at the Foundation are very clear that the true hearts of teachers have been on display everyday since the pandemic swept across our communities. Your caring, resilience and flexibility over the last several months have been nothing less than inspiring. We are equally convinced that this same strength and commitment of heart will allow all of us who care about great teaching and learning to lean into the moment and create magic for students and each other. Welcome back and best wishes for many moments of joyful learning ahead!


Jerry Harris

Executive Director
Cotsen Foundation for the ART of TEACHING

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