San Bernardino teacher makes Elite 100 list out of 800,000 for helping students succeed during the pandemic

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Photo Leslie Pjerrou: Riley College Prep Academy Fifth Grade Teacher Leslie Pjerrou is a 20-year elementary school teacher, and now on the IXL Elite 100 list for helping dozens of students succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leslie Pjerrou, a fifth-grade teacher at Riley College Prep Academy in San Bernardino, was recently awarded for being one of 100 of the top teachers around the world for helping students succeed during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Elite 100 list, produced by IXL, is a K-12 personalized learning program used by 13 million students and over 800,000 teachers; Pjerrou was one of those recognized.

“The past few school years have been some of the most challenging, but they are also clear reminders that nothing is more important to a child’s education than support from great teachers. Dedicated educators have engaged, encouraged and empowered students so that they receive the best education possible,” said Paul Mishkin, CEO of IXL Learning. “This year’s Elite 100 is an outstanding example of how educators can combine the powers of empathy and personalized instruction to make a lasting, positive impact in learners’ lives.”

“Early on in the pandemic it was a challenge to teach, especially because I had never done any type of remote teaching and for the most part, it was a new concept for students as well. But the IXL program really helped me successfully guide my students through language arts, reading, writing, math, and science,” said Pjerrou.

She said that while teaching remotely she would teach her lessons via Google Classroom, then assign work via IXL.

“IXL was great because the work correlated with my curriculum. So I would teach the lesson, then assign them the work; and on IXL teachers can log in, see if students are doing their work in real-time and determine who may need assistance; and from there I’ve been able to work them back up to grade-level,” continued Pjerrou.

She said that the IXL program really helped her determine whether or not she needed to remediate any lessons, before moving forward as many students fell behind in their education between 2020-2021.

“In 2020 and 2021 the greatest challenge was to get students to attend online class and get them to do their work. Getting them engaged was tough because, for many of them, there’s not someone standing over them ensuring they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Pjerrou said.

She also shared that this school year’s biggest challenge has been getting students used to the classroom again.

“My fifth graders were pretty young when they left the classroom two years ago. I had a two to a three-month adjustment period, where I had to get them back into working with classroom procedures. On top of that, there’s been lots of remediation because students came back to campus at different levels. Some students made progress and excelled with remote learning, but many of them did fall behind,” Pjerrou said.

Pjerrou says that although she is appreciative of the recognition, she’s in it because she truly cares about preparing the next generation of students for success.

“It’s crucial for us teachers to prepare our students for the future. My goal is to get students to realize what a great opportunity they have in front of them, the opportunity to be educated. I tell them, you’re getting this education, take advantage of it,” concluded Pjerrou.