Our primary schools – Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC), Deepdene; Our Lady’s, Wattle Park and Our Holy Redeemer, Surrey Hills – started Term 3 this week, with a return to remote learning due to the second lock down.
A special visit was made to each school, firstly to understand how the principals and staff were coping with the stress of delivering an online teaching program for students at home and supporting parents. And secondly, to show support for our schools and to assure them that they are in our prayers during this time.
The principals and staff of all three schools are working extra hard to ensure the continuing education of their students.
At Our Lady’s, Wattle Park, I was invited for a cuppa and met with the principal Annie Engellenner and her staff; all were in very good spirits. They were well prepared and positive about the remote learning program, but wished the children were back at school where they can connect face to face with their teachers and friends. The school was much quieter than it should be in the first week of Term 3. One teacher hilariously said “there are more teachers than children at this stage!”
At OLGC, the principal, Jennifer Gray and school staff welcomed back students to remote learning. Staff are assisting more than 20 students who are coming to school on a daily basis, due to their parents working in essential services.
At Our Holy Redeemer, Surrey Hills, principal Frank Dame shares with me that “during the extra week of school holidays, the teachers and staff have been busily preparing for our second phase of learning from home or remote learning and have been exploring ways of further improving and refining the approach taken during Term 2. We are very mindful of reducing the time the students spend in front of the screen by engaging in off-line activities that enable authentic learning that would ordinarily occur in the classroom.”
In addition, to ensure the ongoing education for the children, Frank also values the importance of the connection between teachers and children. As he says “our planning has taken into consideration other ways in which we can maintain a strong sense of connection among the teachers and the students. The well being of our staff, students and parents continues to remain at the forefront of all we do.”
We should be both proud and grateful for the professionally dedicated way that our three schools have adapted to online, remote learning this year. We should be quite confident that the children of our parishes are in very good care. We should also acknowledge the incredible work that parents and extended family members are doing to support their children at home. This year’s learning goes way beyond the classroom.
Fr Trac Nguyen