July 12, 2024

Resiliency Reflections: A second year with COVID interruptions, FMCSD thrives with grace

By on August 9, 2021 0 467 Views

When one reflects on the 2020/21 school year there will be plenty of talk about pivoting, resilience, and being flexible. It truly was a year like no other and we cannot be more thankful for the patience, grace, and compassion of all families and staff as we navigated this year.

Sister Mary Phillips Vice Principal Jamie MacNeil enjoys the snow during outdoor supervision.

The entire Fort McMurray Catholic Schools staff made many adjustments throughout the school year as they continued to reinvent what they do to meet the needs of students, families, and meet current public health orders.

St Gabriel School music teacher Gerarda Germain states there was a huge challenge for music teachers, “Teaching music without singing! As well as planning low contact music, PE lessons without any school-wide sharing of instruments or equipment.”

Teacher Shannon Pleshka took on the challenge of moving to the Fort McMurray Catholic Schools Virtual Learning academy for the 2020/21 school year.

“The technological component was, by far, the biggest adjustment this year. Identifying and implementing effective technological programs to authentically teach kids required a lot of innovation and creativity as an educator,” she said.

Good Shepherd Principal Sheldon Germain prepares pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.

At the peak of off-site (online) learning in May, there were over 1,700 Google Meets a day in the Fort McMurray Catholic Schools system. The average meet during this time was about 50 minutes long. Approximately 4,800 students and staff were involved in meets each and every day. A special thank you to our technology team who worked tirelessly to make these transitions as smooth as possible.

“Although unique, this year has been invigorating,” continued Pleshka. “Working collaboratively with an amazing group of colleagues and developing strong relationships with families have both been highlighted. Surprisingly, the relationships formed were genuine and authentic like in a traditional classroom. Kids are kids and regardless of the platform, they just want to be loved.”

For hundreds of our students this year was their first year of school, be it in our Early Entry Program or Kindergarten. Many have just moved to our Division in any grade. And for hundreds of students at Father Mercredi and Holy Trinity High Schools, this year was the culmination of education. Fort McMurray Catholic Schools Superintendent George McGuigan always declares graduation as a time of hope.

Virtual Learning Academy Teacher Shannon Pleshka preparing to teach online.

“This gift of hope is one that you need to take with you as you chart your own path for the future. We are tremendously proud of you and thank your parents for allowing us to be part of your lives. We are better because of it. Fort McMurray Catholic will always be your home. Wherever you go, whatever you do, make a difference.”

To those who have graduated or are otherwise moving on- we pray for your safety, success, and happiness. To those returning next year, have a wonderful summer and we can’t wait to see you back in the fall!

For the latest information on the Fort McMurray Catholic School Division, please visit our website at www.fmcsd.ab.ca, search for the Fort McMurray Catholic Division on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@FMCSD), or find us on Instagram @fortmcmurraycatholicschools.

About the author