While many schools are looking for ways to move forward with educational learning, St. Mary’s School in Oak Ridge has a plan. After extensive training and preparation, SMS has moved online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the students, administration, teachers, staff, and families know that “the journey matters” and are keeping the school community alive by staying connected and working together to continue the student body learning experience. In the spirit of true community, the St. Mary’s faculty members have rallied to encourage one another and build one another up in order to further the school’s mission to provide the highest quality STREAM education-even during these unprecedented times.
According to Assistant Principal and Technology Teacher, Kendall Doogan, “Our teachers at St. Mary’s have risen to the challenge and are embracing this change. In addition to drawing upon years of experience with technology integration and blended learning, they have been attending online trainings on how to use a variety of different platforms and have spent countless hours preparing lessons. Many of our teachers are extending their use of Google Classroom, a platform which our students are already familiar. Some teachers are also using Zoom for live class session, pre-recording themselves teaching on Loom, as well as utilizing online textbooks and other available resources.” said Doogan. “Our St. Mary’s students will remain excited and engaged, advancing their studies and coursework through utilizing a variety of online virtual education offerings and mediums.”
Online instruction ensues, assessments are given, and teachers have online office hours if students need additional help. Both parents and teachers appreciate the structure and ability to stay connected. According to parent Dennis Snyder, “The school is doing a fantastic job of planning, communicating and soon to be executing the education plan. I have heard from other parents of children who attend other schools; the St. Mary’s staff is crushing it!”.
While working from home, Principal Sister Marie Blanchette wants to ensure that educating the whole child remains a priority. Daily live-stream Masses are offered, and school counselors are available to students throughout the school day for both academic and emotional counseling. “We are fully committed to continuing the St. Mary’s educational experience for our students during this time,” said Principal Sister Marie Blanchette. “In addition to online learning, the health and well-being of our students is of utmost importance, and we are striving to keep our school culture and sense of community alive and strong.”
The school’s administrative offices also continue to be fully operational. The admissions, business, and development offices are fully operational although off-site. While this new platform evolves, constant feedback is sought in order to fine-tune and improve the online learning experience.
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