The fifth annual San Antonio Regional Public PK-12 Education Forum will include a keynote address from Pedro Noguera, the dean of the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education. Credit: Courtesy / Facebook

In an unprecedented year for educators, the fifth annual San Antonio Regional Public PK-12 Education Forum will focus on the impact teachers have on their students.

Free to attend, the virtual event presented by the San Antonio Report will be held Oct. 20 from noon to 2 p.m. The program will include a keynote address from Pedro Noguera, dean of the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.

In his address, Noguera will inform attendees about the role of teachers in creating a more just and equitable society. His research has focused on the ways schools are influenced by social and economic conditions.

After Noguera’s keynote concludes, a panel discussion featuring educators will focus on how the ongoing public health crisis forced school systems to reimagine teaching.

Panelists include Kellie George, a teacher at Harlandale Middle School; Lacy Greco, a gifted and talented specialist at Leon Springs Elementary; Denisse Hernandez, the assistant principal at Southwest Legacy High School; and Delia McLerran, the head of schools for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy. San Antonio Report Editor and Publisher Robert Rivard will moderate the conversation.

“This program with a special focus on teachers was first agreed upon in late 2019 and scheduled for March of this year,” Rivard said. “Who could have imagined the unprecedented challenge teachers would face? It will be very timely to hear from our panel of teachers as they share the creative ways they are meeting those challenges to keep students learning.”

The forum will also feature the announcement of the Education Champion award. Past winners include Laura Saldivar Luna, Teach for America USA’s vice president of people; H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt; and forum founder Mike Burke.

This year’s nominees include Shari Albright, president of the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation; Pedro Martinez, superintendent of San Antonio ISD; Elaine Mendoza, chair of the board that governs Pre-K 4 SA; Marisa Perez-Diaz, the State Board of Education member who represents part of the San Antonio area; Patti Radle, board president of San Antonio ISD; and Kate Rogers, vice president of community outreach and engagement at the Charles Butt Foundation.

The program was originally scheduled to take place in person in March but was delayed because of the pandemic.

“This is our fifth annual major Pre-K-12 Education Forum, but it’s also a year, despite the pandemic, when we expanded our forum series and added three programs in the summer that addressed the city’s digital divide, the complexities of starting a new academic year at area schools and universities, and the formation of Early Matters San Antonio and the ballot initiative to renew Pre-K 4 SA funding,” Rivard said.

A portion of the event’s proceeds supports local education nonprofits through a series of grants. The winners of these grants, totaling $65,000, will be announced at the event. Fifty-four organizations applied for the funding.

“Applications were assessed on a series of criteria, including if the request clearly demonstrated how the funds could help to make a measurable impact on improving PK-12 education, the organizations, focus on advancing the quality of teacher success, and the organization’s ability to pivot during COVID-19,” said Kelly Hughes Burton, the chair of the Education Forum’s grant committee. “With a record number of requests, the decisions were not easy.”

Sign up to watch the event here.

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.