No teacher had COVID-19 on their lesson plan in March

HudsonAlpha Educational Outreach offers professional development and support to teachers

COVID-19 has altered what back to school looks like for many students and teachers. In Alabama, as in many states, each school district is starting the new school year with various approaches. This means that some schools are back to school in-person, others virtual and finally some in a hybrid of the two options. HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team responded to the needs of educators to provide professional learning opportunities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking the hard turns

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, HudsonAlpha Educational Outreach quickly adjusted and moved to offer resources online for educators. The team launched Beacon, a program for professional educator learning with the goal of delivering relevant life science content from a distance. These virtual opportunities have provided and continue to provide teachers with a variety of life science content, along with technology integration and best practices for virtual delivery. 

“We created experiences for educators that included unique webinars along with multi-day online sessions that combine synchronous, together at the same time, and asynchronous learning which is more on-demand for educators,” said Madelene Loftin, HudsonAlpha Educator Professional Learning Lead. “Teachers have been asked to deliver content to students in new ways throughout this pandemic, and we are trying to equip them through these tools.”

The summer programming included webinars featuring HudsonAlpha scientists sharing their research. Dr. Neil Lamb, Vice President for Educational Outreach and Shareable Science author, hosted sessions with educators to talk about COVID-19 including how it spreads and what a classroom return might look like. A workshop diving into the cross-cutting concepts that unify biology was also offered. These sessions sparked nearly 100 hours of educator engagement as they interacted with one another and HudsonAlpha staff members. 

Additionally, the education team engaged middle school teachers through a 3-day workshop. During the session, educators explored ways to tap into student curiosity using Foldscopes, affordable small paper microscopes. In total, HudsonAlpha engaged over 150 educators from across the country.

Heather Nardini is a biology teacher at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio and she participated in Beacon programs this past summer.

“I was so scared from the last quarter of teaching remotely, and feeling like the quality of what I was providing was much less,” said Nardini. “This set of workshops gave me hope, and a feeling like I had new life breathed into me and new tools and new focus to tackle the new school year.”

Supporting back to school

As students and teachers return to school, classrooms look a little different. To assist educators through this transition, HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team is offering more virtual workshops and webinars for teachers this fall. 

“We are excited to continue supporting teachers through this new learning environment,” said Loftin. “The workshops being offered through Beacon this Fall will give life science educators tools for their toolbox to deliver the best possible instruction to students.”

HudsonAlpha’s Beacon program is offering sessions in collaboration with partners, an intro to HudsonAlpha’s new resources and the opportunity to join Dr. Neil Lamb for a COVID-19 Q&A session. The virtual classroom presents new engagement challenges, and Beacon webinars are designed to help teachers meet those challenges. Visit for more information and details. 

Supporting education

HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team shifted their programming due to the pandemic. In a short time, they were able to offer virtual opportunities for teachers. Your gift today can help HudsonAlpha’s education programs continue to engage and train educators. To make a difference and support critical education programs like Beacon, click here.