Principal’s Letter

I keep hearing the phrase, ‘strange times.’  I also hear that this is the war of our generation.  We are going through a major global historic event, and acting for the common good is tasking us in ways that are not at all as challenging as a war would, but are definitely taking us out of our comfort zones.  We have all become students of new methods to do our jobs. Some of you, perhaps, have even earned enough teacher education credits in the home to qualify for a minor in elementary education.  We have also become protectors of one another by staying away from one another – all for the common good.  I find myself turning to prayer more often in these times of struggle.  I’m inspired by a reflection one of our distance learning eighth graders shared about the Fifth Station of the Cross.

Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the weight of the cross so that it does not drag on the ground.  This shows courage and it shows that he was there for Jesus when he needed help.  It shows a man who had the strength to walk with Jesus and to bear his cross. 

Dear God, 

Please help those who are hurting right now and in need of support, please give us the strength to do not just what was asked of us but to do what is right.  Help us to live in Jesus’ name and to be the best possible version of ourselves.  Help us to be grateful for our blessings and pray for those who are not as fortunate.

Today’s message contains a number of important items. Please read on.

Distance Learning Plan Update     The school appreciates all the patience, extra effort, and even pain/tears, you have put in to making the transition to our pilot Distance Learning Plan (DLP).  We are all being asked to make extra sacrifices during these days of staying at home.  You are balancing the demands of your professional lives while managing a modified classroom in your home.  It is not easy.  Give yourself, your child, your teachers, moments of grace as we work together to navigate this unprecedented time in our history.  Together we are doing all we can.  And this is enough.

It is during these times I am reminded of the strength of our community.

Parents, students, and teachers jumped right into the DLP waters.  You did not hesitate.  You met the challenge and will continue to do so.  This is another example of how Catholic education, and community, rise to the top.  Feedback is necessary for a successful DLP, and our entire team is open to gentle, constructive, and respectful feedback from parents and students alike.  I want to give a huge shout out to our teachers and specialists.  They are working long hours every day to plan and bring lessons to your homes.  They are also learning new media to present information to your children.  It would be unrealistic, at this time, to assume that direct video instruction will fill your child’s day.  They, and you all, are learners in this new environment.  And just like you, some of them are also parents!  I am very grateful to you for your support.  Here are some words of encouragement I have passed on to the teachers:

“We just wanted to take a few minutes to reach out and tell you how much we appreciate you and the work the entire staff is doing to keep some semblance of school during the closure.  Having a plan in place so quickly has helped provide at least a shred of normalcy and continued learning, which is so important during this uncertainty.  We are so glad to be a part of the St. John community!”

“Your teachers are breaking my heart with their efforts. Thank you.”

“I just wanted to thank all of you for the tremendous job you are doing to continue my (daughter’s) education.  She is engaged and learning every day, and I am grateful that her education is continuing throughout this pandemic.  The organization of the distance learning tools and materials and how quickly they were available to the students is impressive.  I appreciate how quickly you all reply to (her) questions and notes of encouragement to the class. Thank you for the hard work, creativity and flexibility, and your dedication to the students.”

“THANK YOU for everything you are doing to help our little ones feel a sense of normalcy in a time of global upheaval.”

Now that we have had time to pilot the DLP, we are ready to share our articulated plan. You can read the document on our school website.

Reporting Student Attendance     Student attendance is assumed daily in the DLP.  Teachers in grades 3-8 monitor student engagement in the Google and Microsoft environments.  Should a student (PreK-8th) be ill or a family choose not to participate in the DLP, absences should be reported daily to attendance.

March/April Fees     Some of you have contacted the school about March Extended Daycare and hot lunch fees.  School closed on March 16, leaving 12 meals on the table!  These lunches will be credited upon return.

At the time of the temporary closure, it was too late to stop the billing for the April XDC fees.  As a result, you have already been billed.  If you would like your April fees refunded, let us know and we can deduct it from the next billing cycle. I want to say my heartfelt thanks to those of you who individually have reached out to me and offered to continue payment of lunch and Extended Daycare fees to help cover the costs of paying our hourly employees.  This is what makes our St. John community so special!  If you are able to help St. John, please do so; however, I realize that many of you may also be struggling as a result of layoffs.  Remember, we are a Fair Share community!  Let us know if you are challenged financially at this time.

Auction     You will have another opportunity to support St. John next week!  The Be True to your (in your living room) School auction is one week away.  Start planning those virtual parties to strategize your group bids.  Root out your St. John gear, grab your selfie stick and get ready to tag your pictures!

I miss you, but I am looking forward to seeing a frenzy of activity as we bid for the good of St. John.


Bernadette O’Leary