As we all know, the pandemic turned school operations upside down this past March. To make things more challenging, many of our families faced economic hardship and personal issues. It’s been hard for a lot of people. Like other schools Totino-Grace developed a distance learning program with very little warning. Above all else, we understood that students needed their intellectual and social-emotional needs attended to. We weren’t going to mail it in and teach to the lowest common denominator. That’s not the TG way. Students need authentic learning, real engagement and that’s what we sought to accomplish.
2021 Catholic Schools Week Reflection
Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.
Catholic Schools Week: January 31 -- February 6
Dear Totino-Grace Community Members,
What is the number #1 reason for student academic success in high school?
A. Parents’ socio-economic status
B. The number of Advanced Placement courses offered
C. The school’s zip code
D. Teacher belief
These are all factors, but the answer is D. Recent studies indicate that students need to have at least one “go to” teacher in the school for them to achieve academically. I like to think that every Totino-Grace student has more than one champion at our school.
Various media outlets have noted the legions of students who are currently falling through the cracks throughout the country. Stories abound with schools either remaining closed to in-person, on campus classes all together or holding hybrid programming that only brings students to campus for a few hours each week. These learning models are not the blueprint to guide innovation or prepare young people for the next step in their education or for life.
More than ever, we’ve come to know as a society that education matters! Where students are educated and who they spend their time with is consequential. Catholic schools have sought to harness learners’ own passions, strengths, families, and communities as fuel for the development of knowledge and skills that will be catalysts for future success.
In particular, the North Star that guides Totino-Grace rests on five Lasallian principles:
Concern for the Poor
Faith in the Presence of God
Respect for all Persons
These tenets of our faith serve as catalysts to develop in our students a natural excitement and eagerness in their learning as they gradually become owners of it. Perhaps most importantly, they inspire our students to aspire to lives of distinction.
Catholic Schools Week was celebrated across the nation with the 2021 theme "Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service." Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, “Catholic schools have been a pipeline to opportunity.” She’s right. When our young people have needed it most, our Catholic schools -- our teachers, counselors, coaches, and many others -- have provided hope, optimism, and rigor. This is in our DNA.
Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. I am proud of our faculty and staff. You are encouraged to reach out to one or two of the adults in your kids’ lives at Totino-Grace to thank them. In a time of great uncertainty and stress over the past 11 months, these people have come to school every day, ready to teach and take care of our Eagles. As both the president of the school and a parent, I could not be more grateful for the impact they are making.
Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever!
Dr. Craig W. Junker, President
For the 2020-2021 school year, Dr. Junker will provide weekly COVID-19 updates for TG families HERE.
We honor our seniors for the countless achievements we have witnessed over the last four years. We have enjoyed helping students learn, watching them compete, seeing them perform, assisting them as they navigate challenges, and laughing and praying with them each and every day. We are so proud of the class of 2020. May God bless you abundantly.
Evidence clearly shows that for students to really excel they need to have at least one “go to” teacher in the building who believes in that child and is willing to listen, challenge, and encourage. The enjoyment of learning and teaching comes down to relationships and how students feel about who they are and where they are going.
On behalf of our teachers, staff, and administration at Totino-Grace, my thoughts and prayers are with all of you as we face the incredible challenges and impact resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The strength of a school is a direct reflection of the strength of its people -- in particular teachers and students. The schools shining now are the ones that are moving forward, focusing on their students. To be clear, I like what I see in our students and teachers at Totino-Grace.
My prayer is that we look for tenderness and love to always guide us, that we are a sign of strength and peace to others, and that we remember that God is love. After all, we are the love that God is. I hope you have a blessed Easter.