There have been two main variables to deal with in the successful transition to on-line learning across Pennsylvania—students having some type of computer at home and the teachers being able to make the adjustment in delivering their lessons.
St. John Neumann Regional Academy in Williamsport was in a good position with both of them.
“We were one-to-one, meaning each student did have a device,” said St. John Neumann Principal Alisia McNamee. “At the high school our teachers were trained and many of them had already used Google Classroom which made that a really easy transition for those students.”
McNamee said that one of their goals was to teach the students how to use the school’s informational system where they can get on and check grades and assignments.
“Already doing that throughout the year, it was a much easier transition for our students—already having that familiarity with our school informational system and where to find the information. Then we simply trained our teachers to make sure everything was posted in that system that both teachers and students had access to.”
McNamee gave a big hand to the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Scranton, Kristen Donahue, for having the schools prepared for a shutdown.
“We already had an in-service day scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th,” McNamee said. “Our Superintendent Kristen reached out to us and told us that we needed to prepare teachers for ‘if this could happen.’ Our in-service actually turned into that preparation time with our teachers, which was truly a blessing in disguise, because then we were able to have some type of basis to come into this huge undertaking. If it had not been for the foresight of our new administration in the diocese, I think we’d be looking at an entirely different situation.”
McNamee also had the highest praise for the teachers.
“Through all of this they had to start finding what worked for them. Start using different programs and different platforms. Doing the trial and error that we always teach our students to do, never giving up. It’s really a credit to our teachers for being willing to do that and keep that going.”