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Teaching Channel Talks 52: Having the Courage to “Love Them First”

Courage is action in the face of fear. 

Being an educator right now takes courage. While the rest of the world is divided and children’s success is still being measured by standardized test scores, it takes courage to focus on love and own our roles in education. Sit down with Principal Mauri Melander Friestleben, from the documentary, Love Them First: Lessons From Lucy Laney Elementary, and our host, Wendy Amato, as they reflect on the state of education, the burnout many teachers are facing, and how we can stay resilient and courageous even during the hardest times. 

Our Guest

Mauri Melander Friestleben is a lifelong educator who started her career as a middle school teacher. She served as principal of Lucy Craft Laney at Cleveland Park Community School in North Minneapolis for 7 years before Friestleben accepted a new position as principal of Minneapolis North High School during the 2019-20 school year. Her years in the classroom overflowed with great challenges and even greater rewards, under Friestleben’s leadership, Lucy Laney saw unprecedented academic gains, with four years of growth on the state’s standardized tests. Friestleben says there are many commonalities she shares with her students; yet through barriers and strongholds, she stood strongly on her faith and strives to model for her students how odds can be beat, goals can be achieved and perseverance can be rewarded.

Our Host

Wendy Amato earned her Master’s in Education and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia. She holds an MBA from James Madison University. Wendy began teaching in 1991, has served as a Middle School Administrator, and still teaches at UVA’s School of Education. She has delivered teacher professional development workshops and student leadership workshops in the US and internationally. Wendy and her family live near Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Professional Learning

  • 3-credit continuing education course: Teachers Matter

    Filled with uplifting and supportive messages, this course experience is the salve all teachers need to remember why they matter. Using the powerful documentary Love Them First, educators from across the country will connect to discuss what it means to be a teacher in today’s world and will explore the impact they make on students’ lives. If you’re ready to be inspired and to reflect on why you became a teacher, this is the course for you! 

  • 3-credit continuing education course: Social and Emotional Learning Starts With You



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