How We Supported Our Teachers and Staff - What did the 2020-2021 school year look like?
It comes as no surprise that teachers’ job descriptions have shifted the most throughout this past year of coronavirus. These professionals have faced enormous challenges in how they perform their duties and manage their jobs during this pandemic.
Our classrooms, transformed from desks and work tables, to stacks of books on stools and kitchen table, with fifteen faces looking back at you in the classroom, to fifteen glowing boxes on a single computer screen. We never could have imagined we would be exchanging our workbooks and glue sticks, for conference calls with children and purchasing rolls of stamps with daily visits to the post office.
What didn’t shift across these past few years? Standards.
“I am exhausted every day, but our kids are excelling,” Shelly Henn, teacher and new principal for Holy Cross reiterates.
Teachers were tasked with teaching every subject differently, and in many instances, to students in person and at home simultaneously, with expectations to do so effectively. “The simplest tasks become difficult over Zoom, like teaching how to hold a pencil properly,” says Kerri Ysals, Our Lady of Hope teacher.
“The impacts of COVID were felt by everyone,” Holy Cross parent Geoff Henngeler explains. “Teachers were unprepared, students were unprepared, and parents were unprepared. Holy Cross went above and beyond to allocate resources to families and teachers who needed support services.”
Lillian Klein, office manager for both Our Lady of Hope and Holy Cross, provides an example, “Before the pandemic, the only internet device a family had were smartphones, and only the parents had them. Those phones left the home as parents went to work. We quickly recognized the importance of getting technology to our families at home and made it a priority.”
Our faculty and staff enacted a one-to-one ratio, matching each student with what they needed technologically for virtual learning. Together, we secured Chromebooks and partnered with Spectrum to ensure that everyone enrolled had essential access to the internet.
Our student population was not where the problems stopped. During an Advisory Council meeting, a member recounted seeing a teacher give an online presentation with a cracked computer screen. “Our teachers needed resources just as much as our families,” stated this council member.
With technology needs being graciously met, finding partners to feed our students and their families, navigating new ways to keep our student body healthy and safe, have been triumphs for both schools and our teams.
In speaking with our students, they continue to be exuberant about how much they love and appreciate their teachers. It is evident and felt in each and every classroom as you poke your head in to say 'hello.'
This year has been incredibly hard on so many and it's important to acknowledge, that despite each setback, bad day, or sleepless night our Bright Futures Fund teachers, faculty, staff, and teams at Holy Cross and Our Lady of Hope, along with all teachers everywhere, have gone above and beyond for our students and tomorrow's leaders. In a year, with the potential to be heavy and dark - we have continued to Shine Brightly.
By Kendra O'Sullivan
How you can help!
You can insure that our students continue to have access to an incredible education. Click below to see some of the incredible changes that will be coming to our students and our schools through the SHINE Brightly Capital Campaign.