Two schools, one community
Catholic education provides a faith-filled community that evangelizes students to be disciples of Jesus. In times of challenge, students have their faith to provide strength and hope. "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31)
In September 2020, the principal goal of schools was to open for in-person learning, and to remain open safely. In this unprecedented time of a worldwide pandemic, the Partnership Schools of Sacred Heart and St. Francis Xavier was launched. Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No. Not when you have two parish schools with more than 100 years' experience of teaching children the Gospel values of Jesus. Add to that a team of dedicated teachers, administrators, staff, and clergy, along with the support of parishioners. The Partnership Schools opened and thrived.
With the new model, new programs were introduced, and others enhanced. Recognizing that children learn in different ways, and that nearly three months of remote learning caused some learning setbacks, Sacred Heart School and St. Francis Xavier School staffed full-time Learning Centers to help bridge gaps that may have formed. Students with IEPs could be accommodated with a team of professionals. The Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), a schoolwide framework to improve learning and behavioral outcomes for students was implemented. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) was enhanced by on-site counselors and a focus on mental health wellness by the nursing staff.
In spring of 2022, the doors to each school were literally re-opened to parents and families. The warm, inclusive, creative, and hard-working community of parents was back! There were activities to plan, dances to host, drama and band productions to enjoy, and field trips to chaperone. These close communities quickly came together to enhance the experience of the students!
As the 2022-2023 year kicked off, something new and wonderful took place. It was something that had been imagined and planned, but had yet to be truly realized. Finally, the wonderful communities of parents and families for Sacred Heart and St. Francis Xavier Schools became one school with two campuses. Parent Associations were re-formed, faculty and staff began combined in-service days and retreats, and the students enjoyed joint activities. Unity!
One constant that never wavered was teaching and living the Gospel values of Jesus -- particularly Faith, Hope, Love, and Service. The students always began and ended each day with prayer. They attend Liturgy, even if wearing a mask and sitting six feet apart. They carried out service projects, remembering that these acts of kindness require sacrifice and redirect our focus to Jesus. They practiced love and kindness as they adjusted to various scenarios within the classroom and the schools' buildings. And they prayed for those most in need because, as Psalm 46:1 states, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
As the new year begins, the partnership community is on track to become stronger and more enriching for the children and families of Sacred Heart and St. Francis Xavier! The education of the whole child; academically, spiritually, socially, and physically, is an honor and an obligation. In St. Paul's words to the Romans, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." It is our foremost responsibility to help our students discover, nurture, and utilize their individual gifts.
LISA SCHMIEMANN IS DIRECTOR OF MARKETING FOR ST. FRANCIS XAVIER, WEYMOUTH. SHE IS A 1973 ALUMNA OF THE SCHOOL.