Meet our 2018 Lea(R)n Fellows


LearnPlatform was designed by, with and for educators. Several summers ago, we kicked off the Lea(R)n Fellowship program to take that collaboration to the next level. Now in its fourth year, the program received applications from incredible educators across North Carolina who wanted to help peers get control of their many digital learning tools - and make the best (data-led) decisions for their teams, classrooms and students.

After speaking with a number of fantastic teacher leaders and edtech champions, we are excited to announce our two newest  2018 Lea(R)n summer fellows — David Balmer, an educator with Wake County Public Schools and Laura Linton, Instructional Resource Teacher at Davis Drive Elementary School.

We’re thrilled to begin working with both of these outstanding educators and want to help you get to know each of them a little bit better: 

Meet 2018 Lea(R)n Fellow, David Balmer

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Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: I have been a public school teacher/instructional technology coach for six years.

Q: What’s your favorite part of teaching?

A: Regardless of who I am working with, K-12 students or adult learners, there are two things that bring me immense joy; one is when I have been working with a student for awhile on a difficult subject and they get it for the first time. When that light bulb comes on, it's bright and can light up a room with excitement.

Secondly, I love building connections with students. They are our future and we have the responsibility to connect with them, respect them, value their opinions, and give them a place to share their voice. I think seeing that whole process play out will never cease to bring me meaning and purpose.

Q: How do you use edtech and digital tools to enhance learning?

A: Edtech usage in the classroom is essential to providing students with 21st century skills that companies [look for]. However, all things must be done in balance. Using instructional frameworks like TPACK and SAMR to guide edtech integration is a key to enhancing learning in a balanced way. By making sure your technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge is presented in a balanced way, personalized learning and student growth will be there.

Q: Who inspires you?

A: There are so many people that inspire me so this question is a bit overwhelming. When it comes to education, it's very easy to point to Edu "Superstars" on social media and those who receive big awards. But for me, I am constantly amazed and encouraged by every day, "ordinary" teachers who continue to show up even though they are underpaid, shut out of decisions, and treated unprofessionally. They inspire me because in spite of these challenges they continue day in and day out to lift students up, help them to learn, and help them grow. That matters. They matter. I want to continue that legacy of daily showing up for students because they deserve it.

Q. What are you most looking forward to as a Lea(R)n fellow?

A. As a 2018 Lea(R)n fellow, I am looking forward to helping develop a product that is going to continue to revolutionize how educators approach edtech. I want to be a part of helping to develop user-friendly tools that help educators better understand and evaluate edtech products for their own benefit as well as their students. Lea(R)n has developed a product that invited educators into the conversation and helps them to cross the “edtech bridge” and I want to be a part of that on both sides.


Meet 2018 Lea(R)n Fellow, Laura Linton

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Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: I have been teaching in Wake County Public schools for more than 20 years. I did spend some time at home with my children, but stayed active in the public schools during my time out with my children. During my career I have held several positions. I have taught kindergarten and third grade. I have also been an intervention teacher, an Instructional Resource Teacher, and a continuing education instructor for teachers. I hold a K-6 teaching licence as well as a K-12 reading specialist license.  

Q: What’s your favorite part of teaching?

A: I went into education because I truly couldn't imagine doing anything else. I love the look on students' faces when they finally "get it." I also love that each day is completely different than the day before and there is always something to laugh about at the end of each day.

Q: How do you use edtech and digital tools to enhance learning?

A: The challenge with all of the educational digital tools we have available today is making sure that we aren't promoting working in isolation in front of screens. Therefore, I prefer to use tools that promote collaboration and sharing. I believe that students not only need to be able to capture their work, but need to be able to show it and share it effectively. There are wonderful tools available that help students sharpen basic knowledge skills, however, teachers must be teaching students how to use digital tools for communication. There are plenty of opportunities to give students communication crutches through digital tools. We must support teachers in making sure that they are modeling collaboration and communication skills while using the technological tools that are available to us.  

Q: Who inspires you?

A: My mother. She never stops learning. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degree while working full time and raising a child as a single parent. She is currently retired and has been taking college level seminars and volunteering for several organizations. She is incredibly well read and well spoken. I hope that at her age, I have her same level of passion for learning new things.

Q: What are you most looking forward to as a Lea(R)n Fellow?

A: I'm energized by people who are excited about what they are doing. It is obvious that Learn(R)n is a high energy company that is dedicated to providing tools for teachers to enhance their craft. I am exciting about being a part of this process and getting to the know the creative people who make this happen!