Dear Friends of the St. James School Community,
Thank you for what you’re doing and please continue to help, whether by giving financially, or purchasing items from our Amazon Wish List, or dropping off food directly to us, to St. Christopher’s or to your church if it is participating.
Your generosity is greatly appreciated and we still need you to help us feed our students, families, and neighbors for as long as the current health and economic crisis continues. Truly every little bit helps!
This week, I invited math instructor andDirector of Operations Annie Lerew to share with you her experiences and observations over the past five weeks. Annie, one of our lead teachers, has been staffing our outreach table in front of the school on Clearfield Street. Perhaps surprisingly, she notes an unexpected benefit of remote learning for students. Enjoy Annie’s story below, and don’t miss her closing sentence.
Also below, please note the important ways you can help St. James School right now. If you are a church leader, there’s a new request just for you.
God bless you,
Head of School
A Few Words from Annie Lerew
Five weeks ago, a typical day was teaching four math classes, running the 8th grade homeroom, and eating lunch with the students. Then March 13th happened. We were celebrating Pi Day, which is a really big deal, and it concluded with a dance party downstairs, in costumes, having fun with Pi.
When we went upstairs at 3pm, we were told we wouldn’t have school for two weeks. We quickly filled up backpacks and emptied lockers. We said don’t be nervous, you’re going to be fine, and check your email.
Since March 13, the six of us who live on campus have been sharing a very different routine. Each morning, after Mass and a staff Zoom meeting, I sit behind a line of tables that keep me six feet apart from people who walk up. My new job is to make sure our students, families, and neighbors are getting what they need – whether it’s food, school supplies, books to read, pastoral care, or just someone to talk to. Senior citizens who live alone often stop by for a five-minute chat.
On Mondays, I give out academic packets prepared for each of our 86 students. By midweek, about 20 packets remain. Fortunately, Father Kellner is doing about 20 home visits a day. Along with the food he loads in his Jeep, he will take the packets to the students who didn’t pick them up.
To teach math remotely, we’re relying a lot on websites like Khan Academy and IXL. The first two weeks of “temporary” quarantine, we worked on proficiency with existing skills. Since the quarantine was extended to the end of the school year, we have been moving forward through the curriculum.
The big question is what fall will bring. We’ll be promoting all our students to the next grade, but we can’t know yet how much learning will have lagged in these challenging spring months.
Meanwhile, I miss the fun of teaching math. I miss eating lunch with the students. We do lunch really well at St. James! I won’t take those things for granted again.
Long term, I think this remote learning experience will benefit students. Of necessity, they are really learning how to work independently and communicate with their teachers. In a typical school week, I’d get maybe five emails from my students; now I’m getting far more.
Another silver lining is that the emails aren’t only about math. It is part of St. James culture to speak our love for one another, but being apart has ramped that up to a new level. I now get emails saying things like, “I just want to tell you I love you and I hope you have a good day.”
How You Can Help Right Now
- Pray for us, our students, families, staff and neighbors.
- Purchase needed items from our Amazon Wish List, which Amazon will deliver to the school.
- Make an online donation to our COVID-19 food program: examples of what your contribution can buy are:
$30 (box of oranges) $75 (case of chicken) $190 (case of cereal)
$300 (case of yogurt) $575 (1 day of food) $4,000 (1 week of food)
- Deliver food directly to St. James School or drop items off at St. Christopher’s Church (226 Righters Mill Rd, Gladwyne, PA 19035). Large plastic bins marked “St. James School” are under the cloister walk between the school building and the church.
- Church leader? Invite Dave Kasievich to join your Sunday Mass via Zoom and/or to share information about St. James School needs for publication in your church bulletin. Reply to this email or call Dave at 215.226.1276 x108.