CTN instructor, Anne Fletcher, was featured on PBS NewsHour on May 19th. Fletcher, who has been teaching 50 years, moved to Austin in 2010 to be near her children and grandchildren. “When I had the chance to come to Texas, I was seeking those who were struggling with English, the Latinx students,” she said. “They were the most in need. I saw that there were adults who also struggled with reading and writing, and they were actually more in need, because they were adults who were trying to improve their quality of life.

Fletcher said the days since March 2020 have been some of the bleakest of her career. The spread of COVID-19 forced the community college to shutter all 11 of its campuses just before spring break last year. In the beginning, teachers scrambled to record video lessons and help students get access to courses. Fletcher’s materials were already online, but she had never recorded instructional videos before and also had to quickly learn to teach live lessons and host online office hours. The college provided training and support, but some of Fletcher’s students couldn’t establish any internet connection at all. Others tried to keep up with her course using only their phones.

“That was a nightmare,” she said. “We lost some. They were used to in-person learning, and they didn’t know how they could do it. This was not what they bargained for when they signed up to start college.

“And we as professors could not express our frustration, our panic and our nightmares,” said Fletcher, who has taught at the college for 11 years. “We had to remain calm and do everything we could to help make the students feel more at ease and comfortable with online learning.”

Alejandra Polcik, the Ascender program manager at Austin Community College, said Fletcher frequently works on weekends, answers emails after hours and talks often to her and other program organizers about students’ progress. “She is conscious of the obstacles that we are facing,” she said. “She accommodates her students, but she never lowers her standards.” (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/)

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