Our Parents are the Facilitators
Principal Linda Guzman of St. Paul Dual Language Academy wrote in and told us how her teachers and the parents of her students are the true heroes during Distance Learning! From collaborating with Catholic organizations to make sure that they are providing quality experiences for their staff and students, to working hand-in-hand with local partners to spiritually enrich and mentally support the families they serve, Principal Guzman has been serving the St. Paul community for several years and she was not going to let this global pandemic slow things down on her watch.
Before Covid-19 our school was already moving forward with using curriculum that had strong online resources. As a school we were already having innovative discussions and wanting our students to not only be high school ready, but college ready. Students were using CANVAS, an instructional tool to submit homework assignments and have class discussions. St. Paul’s is blessed to be working with the Catholic School Collaborative, an organization that provides teacher and principal professional development. Partnering with the CSC has allowed our school to use vetted curriculum.In order to ensure students’ growth during this uncertain time, we created a long-term plan. Simply printing handouts would not work for us. Teachers, from transitional kinder through eighth grade, attend Zoom classes daily. It was essential to create clear “norms” for teachers and students during Zoom lessons – this way teachers and students can hold each other accountable. For example, we have our students wear a piece of their school uniform and be set up in a workstation at home. This allows students to get their mind and body ready to be in the learning “zone.”St. Paul’s is working with Counseling Partners of Los Angeles and Butterfly Behavioral Support to provide students emotional support. During this uncertain time, we understand that families are struggling. Parents are overwhelmed with the responsibility of working and having their children home. We have supported families and we focus on ensuring parents do not feel burdened to take up the teacher role. Our parents are the facilitators. They can assist their child in logging in and the teacher takes it from there. Our goal is to support parents because they can feel overwhelmed by the circumstances.
When asked about the greatest needs that the St. Paul community and its families have right now during the COVID-19 crisis, Ms. Guzman responded;
We are currently in need of tuition support. We have parents who have been furloughed or working to support large families. We also have parents in the education field that are unsure of their employment status for next school year. With all this, parents are working hard to meet tuition responsibilities, but if they had more financial support this would alleviate some of the pressure.We are also moving forward with developing curriculum, which can be very costly. Our school needs support in funding these programs. The goals is to provide the best academic education and not allow lack of funds to be an excuse.
Lastly, we asked what role the parents and families play in this new configuration, and Ms. Guzman assured us that they have been outstanding stewards of their children’s educational journey at home by keeping up with schoolwork and being present for their children!
One of our biggest obstacles is routine, since students are at home. In order for students to be successful in distance learning they must have structure at home. St. Paul parents have been very supportive with our home suggestions, for example, keeping up with bedtime and food schedules. Children thrive on structure. We appreciate parents and all their efforts to keep a sense of normalcy. I enjoy getting videos or pictures of students doing P.E. with their parents. For example, the Munoz family (who has three children attending St. Paul’s, with each child having a different P.E routine) found it pretty entertaining when watching each child show off their P.E routine.St. Paul’s teachers and administrators also provide virtual after school clubs. We offer fun activities like chalk art, painting, drawing, and choir. We even had a virtual school dance hosted by our student council members. We “danced out” our feelings.A huge thank you to Principal Guzman and all of her staff, for continuing to serve the students of our community. We are better and stronger because of you!
If you are able to support the students and families of the St. Paul Dual Language Academy community, please visit www.cefdn.org/donate-now and make an impact for this coming school year!