“It’s like Steve had been preparing us for this moment for five years.” Springfield Dominican Sister Jean Patrice Schingel was talking about Steve Tortorello, principal of Marian Catholic High School. “This moment” was the school’s swift and effective pivot to online learning for more than 900 students because of the coronavirus pandemic last March.
“Because the teachers have been using technology for classroom teaching all along, the transition to e-learning for students and teachers at Marian was smoother than it might have been,” Sister Jean Patrice said.
Now Marian Catholic’s success is featured on the cover of a national publication with a story by Sean Scanlon, the school’s director of instructional technology. Sean echoes Sister Jean Patrice when he writes that he and the principal “have worked very closely over the past six years preparing our faculty and students to make effective changes in how we utilize technology in the classroom.”
“We asked our teachers to focus on grading less and grading better” he wrote. “I shared information with our teachers about utilizing higher-order questions, alternative assessments and a more asynchronous approach.”
Sister Jean Patrice says now these tools will make a return to classroom teaching—whatever that looks like come August—also more effective and efficient for students and teachers alike.
The school is ready to implement a plan that adapts to the needs of individual students and families, providing the opportunity for students to be in school every day, on alternate days, or on a completely home-based electronic learning environment, depending on what is best for each family, she says.
“When you go back in the fall, please don’t go ‘back’” Sean wrote in Momentum, a publication of the National Catholic Educational Association. “Please, use this experience to move forward. Continue using tools we may have been forced to use while closed and focus on what we missed most—our students—to build more effective pedagogy and create a more welcoming classroom culture.”
We wish all the best for students and teachers at Marian Catholic and our two other sponsored schools, Rosary High School and Sacred Heart-Griffin, as they return to a learning environment in one of the most unusual schools years in a generation.