A Message from the President of Saint Martin de Porres Academy
Dear Friends of Saint Martin de Porres Academy,
I hope that this message finds you doing well under the circumstances, and most of all, healthy! I continue to keep you as well as your family members in my prayers. This COVID-19 Pandemic has caused a complete upheaval to our work and personal lives.
I am so very grateful for your continued contributions to support our school year after year. It is because of your support that we are able to keep our students engaged & supported and our organization afloat during this unprecedented time. Being able to continue our outreach to all 240 of our middle school students and graduates has been a challenge, but one that we’ve thus far been successful doing.
Our Middle School Students
Since March 16th, we have been in contact with every single one of our middle school students and their families, including in-person “curb-side-pick-up” of resources (books, computers, instruments) & schoolwork to emails and phone calls. Teachers are holding small group Zoom video conferences with their students. One of our AmeriCorps Fellows is holding virtual music lessons.
Before the school closed, we met with all but 2 of our families and gave each child a novel with an accompanying packet of work to do, along with a project assignment or essay. The students are being guided through utilizing Khan Academy online to work on their Math and Science. Our Principal has been holding multiple weekly video conference calls with our Teachers, AmeriCorps Fellows and Social Workers. Everyone is actively supporting our kids in real time. It’s really remarkable how connected we can remain with them through technology. The kids keep calling the school to check on us, to say hello, tell us they miss us and that they miss being at school so much. It’s been quite touching. We keep telling them that we’re going to remind them of that once things are back up and running. ? We’re tracking all of our communications as well as student work on a shared Google Doc.
Work With Our Graduates
We are doing similar outreach with our graduates. Many of the college kids found themselves quickly vacating campus with little warning. We’ve worked to connect them to resources like U-HAUL who was offering free temporary storage. Several have come in for assistance navigating various digital platforms for hastily put together online learning. Some of the high school students are struggling with this as well. Unlike their private school peers, most of our students’ families do not utilize these online platforms regularly for their own work. We have been loaning out Chromebooks and laptops, and we are communicating with high schools and families regarding admissions and enrollment processes for each of our fifteen 8th Graders.
We are liaising with high schools regarding the progress of the distance learning activities of our high school students. We are also monitoring and compiling college admissions decisions and financial aid awards for high school seniors. We have implemented video conferences with these high school seniors and their parents/guardians around college admissions, financial aid awards and appeals, deposits, housing registration and all other necessary actions to be taken for their transition to college. Finally, we are also communicating with our seniors about scholarship opportunities, and we are tracking their progress and reviewing applications. We are also coordinating with high school juniors on SAT practice and are trying to organize a virtual class through Zoom on a bi-weekly basis.
As you can imagine, this is a harrowing time for our students and their families. They do not have the advantage of a financial cushion to easily weather times like this, especially if laid off from work. We have been connecting our families to resources such as Comcast for wifi (who is offering 2 free months). Most of our families have one device, if they have one at all, and multiple children expected to be doing online schoolwork, which is why we’ve been loaning chrome books to our students.
Our Board Members have really stepped up for our families and committed to personally contribute additional dollars to purchase gift cards to provide food relief to those in our community who are struggling the most. We are meeting most needs as they arise, but our greatest is keeping our organization going with so much fiscal uncertainly.
We have had to make the difficult decision to furlough some employees. We have rescheduled our Spring Fling Gala honoring long-time Trustee and community leader, Barbara L. Pearce, to June 4th, and I pray that we’ll be able to hold it then because it represents 1/5 of our annual revenue.
But we will weather this storm….we HAVE to! Our mission is too vital, and our kids need us!
I received the following words of comfort recently, which I offer to you during this time. May they provide some comfort for your own weariness as they did mine:
In every crisis is an opportunity – creation comes from chaos. As Easter approaches, perhaps God is calling us to stretch out our arms and create a resurrection and human awakening like the world has never seen. Perhaps God is praying that, unmoored from our normal patterns, unfettered by our familiar buildings, we’ll be startled, or wise enough to refocus our eyes and hearts and follow the Spirit out into the world. The root of “humility” is humus – to be of the earth. Through the lens of this global awakening, the illusion that we are separate from one another and the earth is falling away. This virus breaches our borders and calls upon the privileged and the poor alike (with greater deadliness among the elderly and the poor). How we practice calm and non-anxious trust is key to our awakening.
Please take time to simply be….to reconnect with self and Source. Thank you for tending to the beautiful children in our care. How blessed they are to have such a magnificent team of heroes out there in the world who make such a profound difference in their lives.
May God bless you and your family! PLEASE stay safe and healthy!
With Much Love, Gratitude & Prayers,