While families have had to wait out a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, I could not help but think about our most at-risk students–those with the least resources, the biggest gaps, and the largest hurdles.

Unfortunately, many of these children are already at a significant disadvantage. They are disadvantaged children without the same resources as other children. Therefore, it is not only important to help them; it is our responsibility as educators to do something about this gap.

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In quarantine, the gap widens. My greatest fear: these children need the most support, yet are farthest from our reach. How could we possibly find alternatives to help them and in so doing, close the gap? I discovered one. Teach kids on TV-PBS–through New Jersey’s incredible innovation, we brought instruction to 100,000 of our most needy children.

I submitted a proposal to present to middle school students from across the state of New Jersey, and discovered that my lesson submission had been accepted to be produced! Thinking about those children, trapped in their homes with little exposure to outside learning experiences, I eagerly planned my lesson, which aired on PBS.

About the Author:

Dr. Michael Gaskell has been Principal of Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, NJ since 2006, following experience as a special educator and assistant principal in Paramus, NJ. Dr. Gaskell continues to model the pursuit of lifelong learning as he serves as a mentor to new principals in other schools and districts through the New Jersey Leaders to Leaders program. He has more than a dozen articles published eSchool News, Middleweb, NASSP, Education Dive, and made the most-read section of ASCD Smartbrief multiple times. With a book being published this September, Dr. Gaskell continues in his work as a middle school principal, working tirelessly to support instructional excellence, his faculty, the district, and most importantly, the children as the benefactors of idea sharing.


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