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O’Dowd Prepares for Innovative Fall Semester

Our O’Dowd faculty and staff remain committed to creating and nurturing a truly exceptional learning environment for our students, especially as we approach the fall semester with continued remote learning.

Over two weeks in July, our faculty gathered virtually for in-depth professional development. Our goals were to strengthen our ability to deliver academic excellence, while fostering social-emotional connections between students and with our teachers, coaches and administrators. Additionally, we are making sure to prioritize wellness and healthy practices while engaged in distance learning.

Required sessions for all teachers, led by O’Dowd teachers and administrators, included Synchronous/Asynchronous Learning Guidelines by Molleen Dupree-Dominquez, Supporting and Connecting Students by Damian Barnes, Patrice Wakeley, and Juliet Arechiga, and Caring for Self, Caring for Students by Mark Lederer and Patrice Wakeley.

These sessions helped our teachers develop strategies that minimize passive screen time and empower students to engage with high-quality content and lead/facilitate group learning among their peers. Our required sessions also ensured that all staff are equipped to connect students with our strong support services, including counseling, academic support, learning differences and wellness services. In this time of social distancing, we are prioritizing self-care for students and teachers alike.

“After 28 years of classroom teaching, I’m excited to try new interactive video lessons and other new tools for remote learning,” said Brian Cushing ‘84, from the Social Studies Department. “I look at it as a unique opportunity to evaluate and tinker with not only what I’m teaching, but how I teach it. It’s given me an interesting new perspective on what my role should be in my student’s learning process.”

In addition, our talented faculty offered over ten optional sessions for their peers. These included instruction on many innovative tech tools, such as Using HyperDocs to Deliver Online Instruction and How, When and Why to Use FlipGrid, facilitated by Molleen Dupree-Dominguez, as well additional skills to enhance student success, from Coaching as a Way of Working: Building a Culture of Connection and Education through Sport (whether remote or live) facilitated by Hillary Kigar, to Learning Differences and Student Success in Remote Learning, facilitated by Juliet Arechiga.

Our faculty and staff came away energized and inspired by the opportunity to learn from each other and adapt creatively to the challenge of remote learning.

“My friends who are also teachers always tell me how impressed they are by the program O’Dowd develops for students,” said Sarah Tunik, teacher in our English Department. “It’s great to work in a school where teachers are consulted on best practices, and supported by schedules, innovative ideas, and technology.”

Fran Warmerdam, our Director of Counseling, attended all the required sessions. “I was amazed with the expertise of each presenter,” she reported. “I’m proud that we have such enlightened colleagues to share their gifts with us, and I feel both more prepared and more encouraged that virtual learning at O’Dowd will be a solid experience. I know our students will both learn and build community, even though we are not all together.”


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