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'It just feels very rewarding to get to this point' | First-year teacher begins career amid COVID-19 pandemic

With the pandemic and recent winter storms, teachers and students have faced the toughest teaching and learning challenges in a generation.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This is sponsored content by TeachersCan.org

It's been a tough year for Texas educators and KVUE is partnering with #TeachersCan in an effort to help teachers fulfill their classroom needs. KVUE is highlighting local educators in the Austin community after one full year of COVID-19 precautions.

Javier Abrego, a Houston Elementary second-grade ESL teacher, said this is his first year teaching and he can't believe the school year is almost over. 

"Although this was very much a first year for everyone, for me, it was – just feels very rewarding to get to this point and be like, 'Wow, I'm making it and I'm making it through with my students alongside me,'" Abrego said.

Abrego said resources are always needed in the classroom and sometimes he has to reach into his own wallet to make sure his students are able to reach their full potential.

"It honestly comes down to that sometimes. If not, then it's like, 'OK, who else can I reach out to in the community that can help support my classroom?'" Abrego said. "It just makes me feel proud of the accomplishments that we were able to get through. There's lots of things that feel unfinished. I just am proud of where we've – how far we've come [in] the school year." 

#TeachersCan is a movement with more than 125 partners to help raise money for teachers. Its goal is to reach $1.5 million to help fund teachers' classroom projects, just like Abrego's.

“The need for classroom resources is always high, but the impacts of COVID and the learning loss resulting from the pandemic have exacerbated the need for more support for our teachers and students,” said Dr. Shari Albright, president of the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, a #TeachersCan partner. “Over the last year, teachers have demonstrated incredible resilience, adaptability and innovation, and now we hope Texans will join together to show our educators just how much we appreciate them.”

"I feel very proud of how much teachers, in general, have persevered through this year," Abrego said.

“If there’s one thing Texas teachers know how to do, it’s dream big for their students,” said Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose. “The #TeachersCan fundraising initiative has the potential to bring a large number of those learning dreams to life, helping teachers and students across the state access tools they need, from books to technology and beyond.”

WATCH: Rep. Talarico files bill to raise minimum teacher pay

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