Many have begun calling this new period in our history, “The Great Pause.” As we find ways to deal with COVID-19, cities and communities across our nation have put a halt on social interactions and move all non-essential business online. Like many schools, CCC followed the advice of local officials and switched to remote learning in Mid-March. While we are no longer able to gather in person, we are working hard to maintain the spirit of Cornelia alive through all of our virtual interactions.
When we first began experimenting with remote learning, we worried about our ability to maintain a sense of unity, not only within Connelly Middle School but also within our Graduate Support Program. We wanted to continue to offer our students a rigorous and holistic education along with the strong sense of community that makes our program unique. Now, almost three months since we began remote learning, we feel confident that our community is stronger than ever.
As a school, we continue to come together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for virtual assembly, which includes a morning message and prayer. In late April we even celebrated a school spirit week and each day asked students to post a variety of pictures on our school-wide Google Classroom. At the request of our 8th graders, we’ve implemented peer tutoring and have paired 4th graders with 8th graders to practice and review math material via Zoom calls. Our school secretary and our Finance and Operations Assistant have begun calling themselves the “Wellness Committee” and call each and every one of our families every two weeks to check in on them and offer support as needed.
When remote learning began, CMS students received Math and Humanities lessons on a regular basis. Over time, we began rolling out Science and Religion classes. In Mid-April, we even began offering “specials,” like Music and Yoga, virtually. We believe deeply in the power of a holistic education, and so we know that no matter the distance, our girls deserve the opportunity to continue to express themselves through various forms of art.
“Above all, our focal point during this time is the social-emotional well-being of our students and families and therefore we’re really doing our best to leverage all forms for communication with our students,” said Ms. Sachs, CCC’s Assistant Head of School. She continued on to share that mixed-grade Advisory groups are still meeting with their staff advisors at least twice a week, during which time staff members gauge the emotional needs of our students as they deal with the stressors of social distancing. Our school counselor, Ms. Saavedra, and our counseling intern, Ms. Torres, CMS ‘12 continue to meet with their regular caseload of students, and meet with additional students as needed
Our learning specialist, Ms. Camacho, attends the virtual Humanities classes for our Upper School students and whenever necessary, she breaks out into Zoom work rooms with students who need extra support. She has arranged for students to continue to receive Occupational Therapy and one-on-one instruction if needed. “It’s been amazing to see how we’ve come together as a community to support our students during this time. Our librarian, Ms. Fillmore, has arranged a schedule to read with one of our students twice a week to enhance her reading fluency,” says Ms. Sachs.
Additionally, teachers are meeting with our Head of School and Assistant Head of School once a week to discuss lesson plans, student progress, and evaluate remote learning methods. “We want our teachers to feel supported and heard during this time and meeting once a week really allows us to bump up the support we give them,” explains Ms. Sachs.
So, while yes, we may be living through what will historically be known as “The Great Pause,” we know that CCC has not paused. Our students’ ability to persevere, to face challenges head on, their ability shine- none of that has paused. CCC’s commitment to our students, graduates and families has not stopped-- it has become stronger, more focused and more determined to champion our girls to realize their full potential, even virtually!