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Sacred Heart Academy embraces virtual education

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During the unprecedented events caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic, Sacred Heart Academy showed its dedication to the success and education of its students by making the transition to an online education platform, without any delay in learning. 

Sacred Heart became one of the first schools on Long Island to employ its online learning program, beginning with classes on March 16. SHA’s online model provides the full, unabridged curriculum for its students to ensure that they will be prepared for their next academic step.

When the possibility of closing school due to the pandemic became apparent in March, members of SHA’s EdTech team — Caroline Walsh, Kristen Schreiner, Terry Shirreffs, and Kathryn Mulholland — began to execute their plan for school to continue virtually and coached the Sacred Heart faculty on how to appropriately and successfully conduct class from home. 

“As an Ed Tech coach I’ve been working with the faculty and students preparing for paperless learning for some time now,” said Walsh, who is also a history teacher at Sacred Heart. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be using it this year to the extent that we are.”

The education model of Sacred Heart’s online learning platform is using the tool Screencastify to record daily lessons for the students. The videos are approximately 15 minutes long depending on the lesson that day.

Sacred Heart has used Google Classroom daily as the main source of communication. The screencasts and daily lessons, assignments and homework are posted on Google Classroom. Teachers post all material by 8 a.m., and the students are required to hand in all assignments by 5 p.m. to be marked “present” for the class.

“It was a huge and quick transition, but overall everyone has kept an open mind and continues to work hard to make sure that our students have the best remote learning experience possible,” said Shirreffs, who is also the music department chairwoman at Sacred Heart.

The Sacred Heart teachers and students have since embraced this new style of learning. Some remote-learning projects include sending students on virtual field trips to museums in history class, having them create their own concerts in chorus class, submitting science projects for an online science research symposium, and assigning art projects that have to do with working from home, among other assignments.

In addition, Sacred Heart’s Advanced Placement government and theology classes will be the first classes in Sacred Heart’s history to go almost paperless for the entire year.

This online technique officially took effect on March 16. Since then, parents have expressed their appreciation and gratitude for this new platform on an educational and personal level.

“Sacred Heart has been doing a wonderful job,” said Sacred Heart parent Melissa Maher. “As an educator myself, I am so impressed with how the school hit the ground running and began their online learning in such a professional and steadfast manner. My daughters are both working very hard and I can see all the learning that is going on. We are appreciative that you were ready for this challenge and had an excellent system in place.”

Joann Schwartz, another parent at SHA, said she appreciated how supportive the school faculty has been for her daughter, Sophia. “While Sophia is doing her work, I often hear the teachers speaking and I am so impressed and happy that she is surrounded by such love and support,” Schwartz said.

Courtesy Sacred Heart Academy; compiled by Nakeem Grant