Staying Connected – August 7
We are ready!
Dear Parents, Students and Friends,
First impressions are important, especially when we walk into something new. We are acutely aware that an online-only learning environment can be difficult for many students. With our school year starting with Distance Learning (DL), Jesuit Sacramento is conscious of caring for the whole person–cura personalis. Our DL plan of a simulated school day includes morning prayer, daily Examen, teacher-student and peer-to-peer engagement, mandatory attendance, dress code enforcement, and live classes intended to best support the student for their mental, physical and educational engagement. That being said, there are still other factors that can cause stress, frustration, and disconnectedness. This is why we want to ensure that the first experience in this setting is successful for everyone.
In our extensive planning, our orientations, our training, and our start of instruction, our primary goal has been to ensure a great first impression and experience for teachers and students.
- Week of August 10 - Faculty/Staff: The faculty have been training in anticipation of the start of school. We have also devoted this week to ensuring all the technical details in Zoom, Powerschool, and Google are properly set, used, and coordinated; and faculty is able to practice with their classroom cameras.
- Week of August 17 – Students: Students will have their orientations at the start of the week by grade level, which will include our welcome messages to them as well as an overview of how the start of school will look, along with some special peer-to-peer conversations from Campus Ministry and the Student Executive Council. The orientations will also include direction on setting up and utilizing all of our technology tools. Following their orientations, students will have half days Wednesday – Friday to meet (virtually) with their teachers during a shortened schedule. These first class meetings will be used to make sure students know how to join their classes, know what is expected in a class period, receive their syllabi, learn more about teacher office hours, and learn where to get help when needed. Allowing our teachers and students these days to work out the kinks of our new Distance Learning model will promote comfort and confidence, which is critical for a healthy learning environment.
- Week of August 24 – All in this together: This will be the start of a full week of classes following the Distance Learning 5-Day Week Bell Schedule.
Getting these details worked out is really a form of care for students. St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, also believed that details and planning were a part of his ministry. The distinctive approach of St. Ignatius was once summed up by Geronimo Nadal, one of his closest colleagues, as Spiritu, Corde, Practice – in the Spirit, from the heart, and with practicality.
“In the Spirit”
Mass of the Holy Spirit
Jesuit Sacramento, and all Jesuit high schools and universities across the globe, celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of every school year. It is a tradition almost as old as the Society of Jesus itself, going back to the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily in 1548.
In the Preface for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, we pray in thanksgiving to God, who gives us “gifts of grace for every time and season” as God “guides the Church in the marvelous ways of [God’s] providence.” God’s gifts of grace, which St. Paul refers to as the fruits of the Spirit in the Letter to the Galatians, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As we begin the school year, we pray that the Holy Spirit continues to fill our hearts with the fire of God’s love.
We invite all of our community to join us for the livestream of Mass on Friday, August 21, at 11a.m.
Daily Prayer and Examen
Our student ministry leaders will again be providing their video messages each school day. These will be broadcast to students during their class sessions and are also available to our broader Jesuit community on our YouTube channel.
“From the Heart”
Our experience from the fourth quarter last year showed us some students started to drift away when learning was taking place in an at-home environment. While our fall Distance Learning model will be much different, we still remember it was a challenge for us in spring to help our students using our traditional on-campus systems such as the counseling and wellness center, academic support center or one-on-one personal conversations with a trusted faculty member or coach. We also now know that many typical school activities have been moved to a virtual platform or scheduled for a later time in the year– which means that Jesuit Sacramento is able to shift the use of some of our resources and staff to focus on the care of our students.
There are a variety of teachers and staff members who want to serve the school in any way possible, even if their own primary projects need to wait. These individuals will be coming together to be a part of our Cura Team. This care team of trusted Jesuit employees will work with students and families to bring these “lost sheep” back to us. In many ways, they will function like caseworkers to reach out, to follow up, to help make connections to our resources, and to keep the lines of communication open. Cura Team members will partner closely with the Counseling Department to provide an added layer of support.
I want to talk about teachers…
Jesuit’s brand of education places a high value on the role of the teacher. This will continue to be true during Distance Learning. While all of Jesuit’s programming is important and contributes to the mission of forming men of conscience, competence, and compassion, none of it works without the teacher at the center.
Our teachers see their role as one of accompaniment, not an authoritative gatekeeper. The relationship between the student and the teacher is what creates the space for learning, for growth, for transformation. This is not simply a product of a good lesson plan or well-designed assessment; this space is created by a daily investment of trust-building, care, love, and empathy. Like all good and important things, this takes time. We place the faculty of Jesuit High School at the heart of our mission. Guided by the light of the Holy Spirit, Jesuit will thrive as a school as a result of its committed faculty.
Class Sizes and Counselor Ratios
We believe that a smaller, more personalized setting is even more important in a Distance Learning Environment. Jesuit’s class sizes are now below 20 students per class in almost all cases. This lower class size is a result of the addition of the 8th period and the spreading out of classes (please note that teachers still have the typical number of total students, but they will now meet with them in smaller groups).
We are also proud the caseload per counselor is now below 200 students per counselor. This number is below the national recommended average of 250 and among the lowest in our region. We were able to accomplish this with the addition of a new counselor who will work as the comprehensive school counselor for the Magis students, Academic Support Students, and Transfer Students. The additional resources and restructuring will allow for even greater student support throughout the year.
Jesuit Sacramento was already utilizing many online tools and technologies. Here is a quick link to find more information on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), PowerSchool, ordering traditional or online textbooks, and more. Please also review these requirements for Distance Learning which include an items list and student expectations. We also have provided some basic rules of “netiquette” that are good for everyone to follow.
We are here to help, answer questions, and provide reminders on new things for the 2020-2021 school year for ALL of our parents - Freshmen to Senior! Please see the resources bundled below for parents including Parent 101- All Class, and make special note of the new Open Help Session events being held “town-hall-style” via Zoom with parents and school leadership. Next week we will be providing more details specifically for students on the ways they may access the school’s “help desk” during their first days of instruction.
Thank you for taking the time to read our important weekly messages. We hope you and your family enjoy these final days of summer.
We are ready!
Together in faith,
Dr. Michael Wood, Ed.D., Principal | JHS Class of 1999
Rev. John P. McGarry, S.J., President