I am a fan of cheering on our students. There is nothing more satisfying to see hard work pay off. On behalf of Totino-Grace High School, I am very proud of our dance team program. What an incredible run our E’gals have enjoyed.
Education in Unprecedented Times, April 2020
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.
This week marks the end of our second week of remote learning. We’ve been settling in and good things are happening. Our teachers are interacting with students in real time, daily. Teachers are also holding office hours, daily. There are opportunities for community prayer, daily. Counselors are available to provide both personal and college and career counseling, daily. Attendance has been strong, which showcases our students’ commitment to academic progress and tells us how much they need their teachers and one another. Our Principal, Mrs. Broadhead, is sending students a survey on Friday to gain feedback about what is working in the early days of our distance learning program and what we can do better. We are interested in what our students have to say. We want to teach them, challenge them -- but not overwhelm them.
Totino-Grace is working so hard to be present to our students beyond the classroom. One teacher held a Twins Home Opener gathering last night. Another teacher organized a game of Scrabble with her homeroom students. Another teacher had 48 students who wanted to participate in his office hours and he generously made himself available, well beyond the minimum. Coaches are connecting with student-athletes, providing workout plans and motivational challenges. For example, Track and Field engages in a daily team building activity. Today, in a Google Hangout, one of our captains challenged his teammates to see who could put on the most sweatshirts in a given amount of time. Athletes were running to their closets and drawers to find these items. Our students were having fun, laughing, and smiling -- all things that our kids need right now and every parent wants to see.
We talk about the Totino-Grace value proposition often, and I want to lift up something important. Totino-Grace has been able to pivot to remote instruction remarkably fast. We have tools that allow us to do so, tools that many schools don’t have. Really, what it comes down to for me is relationships and a shared commitment to our mission that allowed us to transition to remote instruction quickly and with quality. We know who we are at Totino-Grace and what we are about.
Whatever vulnerabilities your students are feeling, so are we. We don’t pretend otherwise, because these past few weeks have been hard. As a Lasallian school our first commitment is that we belong to Christ and one another.
We have a job to do: to partner with parents to educate kids into young adults of integrity, hope, perseverance, and faith. If you need something from us, please contact your student’s counselor, our Principal (Mrs. Broadhead), our Dean of Students (Andrew Blake), our Director of Technology (Tim Pastoors), or me personally. I can get you to the right person.
We are in this together because Together We Are.
Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever!
Dr. Craig W. Junker, President
This week is Catholic Schools Week across the nation. The theme for the week is: "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed." Let's challenge ourselves to mindfully be Jesus to others.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I am aware of the founding charisms from the Christian Brothers and School Sisters of Notre Dame. More than anything else, these charisms invite us to keep God’s presence at the top of our minds and call on us to love one another. This is at the core of what Totino-Grace offers.
Without a doubt, the first message we want our students to understand at TG is that they matter. Their voice counts. How our students feel about themselves, their classmates, and their teachers is foremost on our minds -- at all times. Perhaps this is why our students like coming to school -- because they feel respected. This may not seem so remarkable, but what we emphasize at TG is not always experienced at other high schools.
In my 20 years of academic leadership, I have given significant consideration to how schools can best help young people to succeed. While recognizing there are various factors, I consistently return to a mindset of service as a key differentiator. What our students soon realize is acting from a mindset of service not only benefits others, it serves the person conducting acts of generosity and care by providing a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Our service immersion trips are transformative, life changing experiences. Our Eagles today are working toward a better future for themselves and others.