August 19th, 2021

What Makes an NCLD Everyday Champion?

Over the last year and a half and counting, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented multiple challenges to keep learning going in schools for all students, and most specifically students with disabilities. And through these obstacles, we’ve seen the unique ways in which courageous educators and administrators have innovated to continually support student needs.

In 2020 the NCLD created The Everyday Champion Award (ECA) to shine a light on these innovators. We called on our community to nominate champions who went above and beyond to serve students during the critical transition to remote learning. And this year, we are once again calling on you to help highlight the educators and school administrators who continue to make a positive impact in the lives of students during this time.

So, what makes an NCLD Everyday Champion? We spoke to our 2020 ECA winners, Truman Solverud, the educator award winner, and Christine Baeta, the administrator award winner, to learn more about their stories and the impact of the recognition thus far. In the Q & A below, Truman and Christine answer key questions about their experiences over the last year.

Truman Solverud, ECA 2020 Educator Award Winner.
Laramie, WY

What does being an Everyday Champion mean to you?

Being nominated and chosen as an Everyday Champion was a rare affirmation of my approach and ethic that I bring to my work with students and families. It was especially meaningful as a newer teacher working during an incredibly difficult time in education. It created opportunities for personal growth and higher-level community engagement in educational conversations and initiatives.

What was your favorite part of being recognized as an Everyday Champion Finalist or Awardee?

The opportunity to share the incredible work that my school is doing to support students in our community, to a wider audience was awesome!  Although participating in the annual fundraiser in person would’ve been special, working with the NCLD team to tell our story through the video production turned out to be one of the highlights of the experience and our school year. Our students were able to participate and see the process which was pretty neat. For me personally, the buzz created by the award opened doors for me to participate and advocate in our community discussions and initiatives that not only support students with learning disabilities, but to lift up education as a whole. These connections have created relationships and partnerships that have created opportunities for the students and families that I work with every day! 

How have you continued to be an Everyday Champion through the COVID-19 pandemic and in the 2021 school year?

Although we were able to return to “in person” learning this year, it was still incredibly challenging. We dealt with a lot of attendance issues with students and staff, as a result of Covid protocols, that were hard on all students, but especially students who experienced barriers in the classroom as a result of learning disabilities. This required patience, flexibility, and resourcefulness on my part, as a special education teacher, and all of the staff and students in our building. The emphasis on our student’s social and emotional well-being has been paramount and an important component of their readiness to learn. Communication, collaboration, and a positive attitude were more important than ever. 

What else would you like to share with NCLD and the LD community?

Students that face challenges in the classroom as a result of learning disabilities are the students that are silently struggling, mightily and silently during this challenging time for education. The type of support they require in the classroom is the hardest to adapt to remote and blended models, and because of their numbers and tendency to fly under the radar, this is where our work as special education teachers has to be focused. The impact of their struggles will be felt long after school returns to normal, as they fall further behind in skill development and graduation progress. Narrowing these gaps will require creativity, intentionality, and a collaborative approach between general and special education teachers at a much higher level than we have seen in the past.


Christine Baeta, ECA 2020 Administrator Award Winner.
Sacramento, CA

What does being an Everyday Champion mean to you

As the mom of four kids with learning disabilities, and a lifetime educator, this is truly one of the most tender honors I have experienced. 

What was your favorite part of being recognized as an Everyday Champion Finalist or Awardee?

Hearing the stories of the other champions and how people responded to my story was just amazing. The increased awareness of NCLD, their work, and their advocacy. Just yesterday, in a professional meeting, the team we met with from our district saw the video, and knew about my daughter, my children, and our story. This anchored our work and provided for a connection. I love that the needs of students with disabilities are being recognized and celebrated.

How have you continued to be an Everyday Champion through the COVID-19 pandemic and in the 2021 school year?

The pandemic has actually offered the opportunity to reflect and improve on previous practice.  In Sacramento City Unified, we designed and offered Learning Hub and summer opportunities for our most vulnerable students including our students with disabilities. We designed our summer programming for inclusion. Our systemic MTSS and UDL professional learning continued through the year as we work to ensure that our educators have the support they need to ensure access and success for all. There is much work needed but I am so excited for our trajectory.


The Everyday Champion Award presents an educator and an administrator $5,000 each, to honor their exceptional efforts. The application closes on the 24th of August, 2021.

Nominate a champion today!

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