Looking around our classrooms at Holy Cross and Our Lady of Hope, you can see the determination on the faces of our students. Speaking with teacher after teacher, you are constantly informed of the motivation level of Bright Futures students. Journal articles, report findings of post quarantine, students returning to their schools, not only excited to be there, but excelling in STEM coursework.
“This school year has been great! The kids are happy to be here, they are working hard, they are following the procedures, and they have a new appreciation for classroom learning. They want to be here.” - Shelley Henn, incoming principal for Holy Cross reports.
Speaking with a group of second grade parents we were told that while virtual instruction was not the “optimum learning mode.” Learning their multiplication tables and overcoming these challenges with new technologies, outweighed standardized test scores or the results of one semester. Also, the parents shared how their children were more relaxed than either themselves or their guardians in welcoming the use of technology to learn.
As Shelley Henn of Holy Cross reminds us “Students had to work really hard this year, it was not easy, but they did the work and they are where they need to be.” One of the biggest changes took place in choral music classes. CDC requirements did not permit in-person singing in our schools because neither Holy Cross nor Our Lady of Hope had adequate social distancing space for that type of airborne activity.
An obvious question that follows is how does a choir teacher fulfill music education requirements based on new regulations?
Jennifer Weiman, choir teacher at Holy Cross, informs us, “What started out as regulations determining execution, very quickly adapted to student-lead implementations.” As a direct result of no singing, Miss Weiman shifted the curriculum to focus on music theory and percussion instruments. This brought new to life our Christmas program, using bucket drums, boom-whackers, bells, egg shakers, sticks, body percussion, and scarf dancing, as a new take on a more traditional pageant, brilliantly and beautifully executed by our Bright Futures students.
“Only a handful of kids actually love to sing, especially in middle school, so this change allowed more students the ability to enjoy something else and become more invested in the classroom,” Miss Weiman goes on.
Teachers incorporating students learning was paramount both virtually and in classrooms settings. Kerri Ysals of Our Lady of Hope, shined brightly in working with grandparent Linda Anderson in creating the possible experience for her three students at home. They created a program named “Taylor Time,” where Taylor, a third-grader, was able to regularly practice reading out loud to her younger sibling’s preschool class virtually.
During a time when community seemed to be so scarce, and students felt isolated, the creativity and determination of Miss Ysals gave her students a sense of togetherness and inspiration for them to keep learning and growing academically.
By Kendra O'Sullivan
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