As we all move into this indefinite brave new world of virtual everything – work, school and even contacting friends and family – Brother Martin High School wanted to keep at least one practice familiar – opening students’ day with prayer.
“Usually we do morning prayer, and we wanted to keep same format, said, Tom Baier, director of campus ministry at Brother Martin. “Every morning at 8 a.m., when students are supposed to be seated, we do a short introduction and a prayer.”
“We thought they might miss that if they didn’t have it to start their day,” Baier said.
So, on that first remote day, March 18, student minister president, senior Emmanuel Levy, led this prayer by recorded video. “As we begin our first day of remote learning, let us pause to remember the importance of prayer. That however remote we are from one another, we are still part of the Brother Martin community. Pope Francis offered a prayer to the Virgin Mary last week. In his prayer, Pope Francis calls Mary Health of the Sick, adding that she kept her faith firm as she stood near the cross as Jesus suffered. Pope Francis has asked the Virgin Mary to watch over the world in this current crisis. Let us do the same as we call to mind that we are in God’s presence...
“Oh Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick. At the foot of the cross, you participated in Jesus’ pain with steadfast faith. You know what we need. We are certain that you will provide, so that as you did at Cana of Galilee, joy and feasting at my return at this moment of trial. Join us, at this moment of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the father’s will and to do what Jesus tells us. He, who took his suffering upon himself and bore our sorrows to bring us through the cross to the joy of resurrection. Amen...
Baier said more than 400 likes were received in response that first day.
“The prayer helps students settle into their day as they would at school,” Baier said. Remotely, students are supposed to check in between 8-10 a.m. every day.
Brother Martin uses Schoology as its remote-learning platform. Schoology has been used by the majority of the faculty as a supplement to classwork, where teachers host discussion board threads, give quizzes and post assignments for each day, Baier said.
Brother Martin is new to using this tool as a conference mechanism where teachers can post lectures.
“It’s become virtual Brother Martin High School,” Baier said. “It’s a place where students can join a group or classroom. We are using this to give assignments.”
Parents can contact teachers by email, while students use Schoology or email to contact teachers.
A conference feature on Schoology allows teachers to present lectures, he said. There’s also a White Board feature where a math teacher, for instance, can write equations, and students can watch the teacher working on them.
Baier said everything they are doing remotely to reach students and faculty aligns with Brother Martin’s charism – placing “great emphasis on personal attention. We didn’t just want to post an assignment and let students do it.”
As he posted a message and the student prayer that first day, Baier emphasized to students before they clicked on the prayer, “Let us remember that while we are a bit more remote and distant from one another, we are never remote from God.” Baier invited teachers and students to visualize how they start their usual day.
“Let us realize that we are closer to each other than we really think, and with God’s grace, we will get through this together,” he said.
Principal Ryan Gallagher, a Brother Martin graduate of the class of 2000, has been impressed with how remote learning has been going.
“All things considered, our remote learning plans were a fairly seamless transition,” Gallagher said, since students and faculty already were accustomed to using the learning- management system.
“Now, we’re transitioning to using it full-time. We will have obstacles to overcome, but we’re leaning on our faith and on one another – faculty and students alike – to make the best of this situation.”
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald. org.