BANGOR---Drivers and pedestrians on State Street in Bangor who travel past the St. John Campus of All Saints Catholic School learn what members of the school community have known for a long time. The school has a lot of “HEART.” In this case, hearts.
“A fourth-grade teacher, Jill Zebiak, put hearts in the windows of all of the classrooms,” said Melanie Perkins, an English teacher at All Saints. “We are still showing the ‘HEART’ of All Saints even in this time of distance learning.”
“HEART” is a driving motto for the school, an acronym that stands for “Holiness, Eucharist, Acts of Service, Relationships, and Tradition.” Age-appropriate applications of the themes are presented to the students, who have taken tremendous pride in deepening their relationships with each other and with God as a result.
It has created a special school community that has only seen its fine reputation grow during the COVID-19 crisis. All Saints, like most Catholic schools, was prepared in advance of schools closing across Maine last month.
“Our intention was that there would be a seamless continuity of teaching and learning,” said Matthew Houghton, principal of All Saints.
Mission accomplished. Immediately after All Saints announced its closure in mid-March, students and teachers utilized Google Classroom to support all curriculum areas including reading, writing, math, science, social studies, physical education, art, music, and Spanish.
“Students start the day by logging into Google Classroom to check in for attendance purposes. Then they listen to daily prayer led by their teacher and begin their academics. Students can say ‘hello’ to each other and also post their work, click on video and audio links, and other related sites to support their work,” said Houghton.
“All of our teachers have really stepped up to the plate and embraced ‘remote teaching,’” added Perkins.
The students, and their parents and guardians, have been delighted with the surprising sense of normalcy.
“My son loved to listen to his Grade 1 teacher, Mrs. Powell, lead prayer and then listen to her reading their classroom read aloud book for 20 minutes. It gave him peace and comfort hearing her voice,” said one parent.
Each curriculum area lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. There are breaks for physical education, snacks, lunch, and other break times too, with plenty of time to communicate back and forth with the classroom teacher for ideas, information, and assignments.
A trip to the All Saints Facebook page displays students happily completing projects at home, reading books, and playing musical instruments. Making the best of a difficult situation and lifting each other’s spirits with enthusiasm and “HEART.”
“I am hearing so many positive remarks and feedback from parents at our dedication to making this distance learning a high quality, faithful, and loving experience for their students,” said Houghton. “Our goal is to continue to improve.”