Unique Partnership Addresses Growing Reliance on Digital Solutions for Educating Students During School Closures

NapaLearns, Napa County Office of Education and LearnShift Join Forces to Provide Inspiration and Resources to Educators

Peg Maddocks, PhD, Executive Director, NapaLearns
Published on May 4, 2020

Press Release For Immediate Release

Napa, Calif. — Over the last two weeks, a unique partnership has been formed to address the growing reliance on tech-based solutions for educating Napa County students during the COVID-19 school shutdowns. NapaLearns, LearnShift™, and the Napa County Office of Education (NCOE) have come together as partners to support teachers in three strategic ways during this time. 

Distance Learning Speaker Series

To inspire Napa County’s educator workforce with instructional strategies aimed at enhancing distance learning, a new thought leadership program called the “Distance Learning Speaker Series” was launched by NapaLearns and the Napa County Office of Education. Each week a distinguished education leader shares their expertise with local teachers and administrators. Speakers include former CUE Chief Learning Officer, Jon Corippo; Senior Director of Discovery Education, Hall Davidson; author and leader in innovative teaching and learning, George Couros; and Stanford University’s professor and author, Jo Boaler. Designed to tap into the talent, experience and passion of leading educators tackling the sudden shift to distance learning, the series has drawn teachers from all levels of K-12 education.  In the first two weeks, more than 150 educators engaged in each of the online gatherings.  

“We launched this series because transitioning to online instruction presents a real challenge for educators,” said Mario Piombo, director of innovation at NapaLearns. “Beyond having to learn new digital tools, educators must also adapt their instructional strategies to engage students in completely new ways. The real power comes when we combine these tools with innovative teaching methods to create opportunities that result in greater learning outcomes for our students.”

Peg Maddocks, executive director of NapaLearns, added, “The opportunities that digital technologies offer go beyond temporary solutions during this crisis. These sessions are helping us  find new answers to how, what, when and where students learn. Educational leaders within our school districts and the broader community are coming together to share ideas and proven practices.” 

LearnShift Learning Community

The partnership includes LearnShift™, a teacher-to-teach based learning community brought together by its chief evangelist and organizer Touro University California professor, Dr. Pamela Redmond.  This corps of dynamic North Bay teachers are alumni of the online Innovative Learning masters degree program Redmond developed at Touro.  These creative and practiced classroom innovators were searching for ways to share their expertise and professional services with their colleagues in the bay area. In a daily “Ask an Innovative Teacher” hour, any teacher who wants to discuss the move to distance teaching or sort through innovative tools and methods to increase engagement and assess learning can talk with a team of LearnShift coaches. The LearnShift teams is comprised of K-12 classroom teachers and academic specialists who have spent years honing their teaching practices to explore ways to leverage new digital media and tools to create more inclusive teaching practices and to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in the future workforce. NapaLearns supports Napa County teachers to complete the Touro master’s program by providing tuition fellowships.

“In the midst of this unprecedented time, education has reached a tipping point that requires every educator to be more digitally savvy than ever before,” stated Dr. Redmond. “As districts were moving to remote teaching, the innovative learning fellows realized that collectively they had expertise across all K-12 grades as well as knowledge and experience with effective methods for distance learning. LearnShift was created to help teachers re-imagine their lessons and begin to use digital tools and media to create learning pathways to help get and keep students engaged. An added benefit is that many of the tools we recommend also allow teachers to check for understanding and assess learning across a variety of distance learning platforms.”   

Lastly, to help educators deal with the isolation and to provide a support mechanism, teachers can de-stress at a LearnShift “Grow Together Happy Hour.” In these online gatherings, they celebrate their stumbles as well as their successes over a glass of wine every Friday afternoon. As LearnShift coach Scott Marsden, an American Canyon high school teacher put it, “It is like a virtual staff lounge where teachers can unwind after a hard week of remote teaching. We laugh, commiserate, and generally support each other as we navigate through this crisis. Oh, and we share really cool tech tips as well!” 

Supported by Travis Credit Union Foundation

None of these efforts could happen without the support of the Napa County community. Mid-April, Travis Credit Union announced a $1 million philanthropic initiative that was dispersed amongst multiple local organizations to relieve both immediate public health and long-term economic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. NapaLearns was the beneficiary of $10,000, which is being used to help fund these efforts. 

More information about these programs can be found at and

About NapaLearns

NapaLearns is a nonprofit with a bold mission – to equip every student in Napa County with the skills they need to thrive in college, careers and their community. NapaLearns has invested millions of dollars in innovative public education programs that improve graduation rates, boost academic achievement and ensure that students have the skills to compete in the workforce of tomorrow. Learn more at

About Napa County Office of Education

The Napa County Office of Education is guided by a belief in vital partnerships and innovative approaches to learning. We provide academic services and enrichment opportunities for students, teachers and the community, as well as critical business services for school districts. NCOE is a leader in the dissemination of research-based best practices to educators locally and statewide.

About LearnShift™ and Touro University California Innovative Learning Master’s Degree is a K-12 teacher-created coaching and support network dedicated to guiding the evolution of thought and practice teachers experience as they consider the use of digital media and tools to support student-centered learning. All members of the LearnShift team have earned their Masters degree in Innovative Learning from Touro University California, a nonprofit, independent institution located on Mare Island. The university is founded on three core Judaic values: social justice, the pursuit of knowledge and service to humanity. The Graduate School of Education promotes innovation and community partnerships and offers numerous teacher credentials and master’s degrees. To learn more, visit  

# # #