HFCA's Resilient Teachers and Students Shape Success in 2020

  • HFCA eighth grade student, Meaghan Barrio.

    HFCA eighth grade student, Meaghan Barrio. Courtesy of HFCA Staff

 
Submitted by Deb Atkins
Updated 10/21/2020 8:28 AM

Many people are coping with the stress of the pandemic by focusing on positive things -- those silver linings of 2020 that need to be acknowledged and celebrated. Such is the grateful mindset at Holy Family Catholic Academy. Since March, the Inverness school has navigated uncertainty head-on and shepherded students from preschool through 8th grade to a new normal of school.

Principal Kate O'Brien attributes HFCA's success to a resilient community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Every day I am blessed to be part of this unbelievable community of dedicated teachers, eager students, and supportive parents. Together we are facing this complex situation, making adjustments, and moving forward," said O'Brien.

The ability for organizations to move forward through adversity hinges on the leadership and culture of the organization, and HFCA's culture of continuous improvement has resulted in creativity rather than paralysis.

Since August, HFCA has welcomed students for in-person learning and offered remote learning for families choosing that option. Running parallel programs has been challenging, but e-learning teacher, Lorry Liesenberg states, "I work closely with my in-person colleagues. We are teaching the same content, only in different settings."

Keeping with HFCA's focus on hands-on learning, e-learners do not just watch a science experiment, but receive materials to complete hands-on science experiments at home.

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Following COVID safety protocols have been a top priority and creative plans have been implemented to relocate classrooms and lessen exposures. The Academy's middle school moved to block scheduling to reduce movement of students and re-imagined their nationally recognized, innovative STEM modules. Remote middle school students livestream classes and continue to feel part of the community by collaborating virtually with in-person students.

Equally important to academics is the teachers' dedication to being present for their students' social and emotional needs.

"Our teachers care deeply about our students and each other. Many have forgone personal and social interactions to ensure the safety of our community. They have gone above and beyond to learn new tools, sometimes overnight, while also cheerfully greeting and bringing normalcy to both our in-person and e-learning students," explains Principal O'Brien.

This commitment is not lost on students.

States eighth-grader Meaghan Barrio, "I am so happy to be back at school! I have a medical condition that puts me at risk, but I feel completely safe at school and am so thankful for my amazing teachers."

Resiliency along with its cousin perseverance are those valuable life skills that, by definition, can only be developed when challenged by adversity. HFCA's success in 2020 is measured by the many ways the faculty embraces uncertainty by continually learning and changing while still staying true to their mission to develop global thinkers, leaders grounded in faith.

The HFCA parent community values the school's commitment.

"We are all so grateful for our Holy Family Community. Our children have adapted so well and are not just surviving but thriving. HFCA has truly given all of us such stability in a time of so much uncertainty, said Jenn Ping, a HFCA parent.

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