April 15, 2020
Collectively, 30 of our sisters together with 271 lay co-workers are virtually educating over 2,826 children at 7 different schools from California to Florida. Education of our young people is a critical service that is being provided at this time. Every moment counts. These children formed in faith, educated with excellence, taught to live for others will be the parents, educators, healthcare workers, and leaders of future generations.
Our sisters and co-workers are diligently working to engage all our students and their families, while simultaneously working through a new teaching model – virtual education. HATS OFF to all our teachers! They are doing an incredible job. We would venture to say that every student we serve is SEEN. Literally and figuratively. One of our principals noted that this has really been an amazing journey for her to see how dedicated our teachers are and to see just how much they love our students.
Highlights from our different schools:
- Weekly all-school virtual Mass for the children
- Hosting a school-wide virtual assembly
- On-going video messages of encouragement to our students and their families
- Lectures are videotaped so that students can go back and review as needed
- Social enrichment – teachers are virtually hosting recess and lunch together so that our children can interact and share with each other
- All-school entertainment – Easter charades, virtual bingo
- Students preparing for First Communion participate in a Virtual “Jesus Day” in which they had exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, prayed the rosary and created crafts to remind them that they need to prepare their hearts for receiving Jesus (even if we don’t know when!)
- Distance learning spirit week
- Participation in special virtual holy hours with pastor, sisters and our music teachers
- At one of our schools, our counselor and office staff are making personal phone calls to each of our 625 families to connect and to see how they are doing. Since some have lost their jobs at this time, there are great efforts being made to reach out to all families to ensure that our families and children have a safe place to go to even if it’s virtual.
- At our high school, counselors are working and contacting every single family, especially helping to keep our seniors focused and engaged
- The Archdiocese meets weekly with all principals virtually so as to keep up with ongoing communication and updates, as well as showing ongoing support for all Catholic Schools.
In a special way, we’d like to highlight two important groups of people.
On the home front, families of our students have been very generous to the sisters by providing groceries and meals. Our sisters are then able to give some of it away to other families in need. A lot of families in the community are coming together in ways we have not seen before. The example our parents are setting for their children will be life-lessons learned. On the classroom front, parents are more engaged and able to see and hear what our teachers do and how much they care. The collaboration that is being built at this time between our teachers and parents will be a source of rich blessings into the future.
The involvement of our priests has been a huge blessing. The priests from one parish are doing Zoom meetings with our high school theology students. Our priests are also going out of their way to make sure the sisters have the sacraments. They are hosting virtual holy hours, school-wide Masses. Their deep desire to be of service to their people has been most inspiring. They are praying and working with us and together we are interceding on behalf of our school families and parishioners.
We are not sure what the end of the school year will look like. Depending on the state in which our schools are located, it could vary from place to place. However, one thing we do know is that we are committed to helping our children maneuver through this year as a positive growing/learning experience while also preparing them academically for next year. Together with our teachers, we are working to stay focused on how we can teach our students the major life lessons that this situation challenges us to learn:
- the importance and enduring nature of relationships;
- the power of faith and the presence of God;
- the importance of commitment and hard work even when difficult;
- the importance of family.
It is these lessons that the children will remember most.
We are committed to strengthening our families and our local communities in which we serve. We could never have guessed that 2020 would unfold as it has. However, there is a great spirit of collaboration, and overall morale is very high. And for these gifts, we thank God for His blessings.