Teaching Through Coronavirus: One School Leads the Way

{OAK RIDGE, TN, March 24, 2020} While many schools are looking for ways to move forward with educational learning, St. Mary’s School in Oak Ridge has a plan. After extensive training and preparation, SMS has moved online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the students, administration, teachers, staff, and families know that “the journey matters” and are keeping the school community alive by staying connected and working together to continue the student body learning experience. In the spirit of true community, the St. Mary’s faculty members have rallied to encourage one another and build one another up in order to further the school’s mission to provide the highest quality STREAM education-even during these unprecedented times.

According to Assistant Principal and Technology Teacher, Kendall Doogan, “Our teachers at St. Mary’s have risen to the challenge and are embracing this change. In addition to drawing upon years of experience with technology integration and blended learning, they have been attending online trainings on how to use a variety of different platforms and have spent countless hours preparing lessons. Many of our teachers are extending their use of Google Classroom, a platform which our students are already familiar. Some teachers are also using Zoom for live class session, pre-recording themselves teaching on Loom, as well as utilizing online textbooks and other available resources.” said Doogan. “Our St. Mary’s students will remain excited and engaged, advancing their studies and coursework through utilizing a variety of on-line virtual education offerings and mediums.”

Online instruction ensues, assessments are given, and teachers have online office hours if students need additional help. Both parents and teachers appreciate the structure and ability to stay connected. According to parent Dennis Snyder, “The school is doing a fantastic job of planning, communicating and soon to be executing the education plan. I have heard from other parents of children who attend other schools; the St. Mary’s staff is crushing it!”.

While working from home, Principal Sister Marie Blanchette wants to ensure that educating the whole child remains a priority. Daily live-stream Masses are offered, and school counselors are available to students throughout the school day for both academic and emotional counseling. “We are fully committed to continuing the St. Mary’s educational experience for our students during this time,” said Principal Sister Marie Blanchette. “In addition to online learning, the health and well-being of our students is of utmost importance, and we are striving to keep our school culture and sense of community alive and strong.”

The school’s administrative offices also continue to be fully operational. The admissions, business, and development offices are fully operational although off-site. While this new platform evolves, constant feedback is sought in order to fine-tune and improve the on-line learning experience.

SMS student Jake enjoys a virtual read-a-loud lead by the school librarian.

About St. Mary’s School: St. Mary’s is an Award-winning Catholic school in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Founded in 1950, we offer P3-8th grade classes focused on a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) based curriculum. Our small class sizes, individualized instruction, and hands-on learning experiences, complemented by an exceptional co-curriculum of fine arts, technology, and athletics, fosters the holistic development of our students.

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 25, Chandler 21, and Naomi 11. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 9 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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