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Educating the whole child in the age of COVID-19

Long-term research on the impact a Catholic education can have on a student’s life shows that, in spite of the challenges they face, Catholic schools have a positive impact on the long-term life outcomes of the students they serve. We believe those results stem, at least in part, from the fact that each Catholic school is driven by a clear mission and vision that puts human flourishing at the center of everything. 

That is also why, in this time of “social distancing,” Partnership Schools faculty, staff, and leaders are crafting a vision for distance learning that doesn’t only address students’ academic needs, but that focuses on cultivating the body, the heart, and the human spirit.

As we do when we gather together in the school building, Partnership educators are engaging students holistically. Arts and P.E. teachers have done so in particularly fast, creative ways that have been nothing short of inspiring. They are embracing the principles for remote learning we outlined earlier this week, such as maintaining routines and ensuring manageability. And they are engaging students with joy, warmth, and support.

A few examples:


Within one day of beginning remote learning, Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary had already scheduled its first online P.E. class:


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Tomorrow with Coach G! Apartment friendly workout on Instagram live at 10 am. We’ll get through this together!!

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…and so many of our schools have embraced Instagram live as a way of encouraging students to get moving–even more important when families are being urged not to leave their homes, and NYC homes are sometimes small apartments. 

Watch Coach Stephen Poaches from Sacred Heart not only lead an apartment-friendly workout class, explaining adaptations for different ages, but simultaneously stretching himself toward the screen so he can shout out peace and blessings to students appearing on comments:


Need some encouragement? If you are in Harlem these days, look up! St. Charles Borromeo School’s art teacher, Becca Anderson, issued this art challenge inviting students to make posters to put in their windows to encourage others. 


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St. Charles Art Challenge 3/24 Create an Encouragement Poster!

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She combines art and caring for others, in keeping with St. Charles Borromeo’s school quest to “Seek, Serve, Heal, Love, and Grow.” 

We also love that she explains how to turn magic marker lines into watercolors. By doing so, she not only reveals a cool art trick but embodies our shared quest for simplicity and adaptability, and for helping families and each other to discover and use tools we already have, rather than adding more strains of finding materials or resources in this challenging time.

Our Lady Queen of Angels handed off its live morning meeting on “Worship Wednesday” to Vincent Hale. A music teacher and emerging leader in the University of Notre Dame’s Remick Leadership Program, Vincent’s delight in seeing his students greet him is its own reward:

He leads a vocal warm-up, modeling good practice even when students will only hear themselves sing, and moves from two rousing worship songs into a heartfelt encouragement for students to follow one of the song’s advice, and seek first the Kingdom of God.

Connecting and Elevating

Not all the ways in which our schools are caring for the whole child involve a screen. In keeping with our principle that remote learning isn’t always online. St. Athanasius invited all students to meditate on Monday, and families embraced the idea:

Yet again demonstrating that some of the most powerful tools we can give students right now are the most basic–and about the fullness of their humanity, not just their progress as students.

These clips of Partnership educators demonstrate not just how we are figuring out to deliver education and community; they embody who we believe our children are: minds, bodies, and souls, who we miss dearly seeing in person, and whose whole formation we remain determined to serve with great joy.