Letter from Dr. Fallon
Good people of Saint Thomas Aquinas,
And they're off…we are back and learning! I share the sentiment of our faculty and staff when I say that we are thrilled to have students in the hallways. Welcome back!
As a quick update following my first Fireside Chat, CityWide is completing the main gym cleaning process and installing nine fans that will propel air into the air conditioning unit for processing. We maximized the fresh air flow throughout the campus by opening vents on roof units and have increased the number of air filter changes during the year. Our school-wide air quality testing has returned a “no-finding” outcome regarding harmful bacteria. Many of you noticed the improvements across the campus – re-sealed and re-striped parking lots, huge landscaping enhancements (thanks to co-owner, and current STA parent David Ward’s company Next to Nature Landscape). They did incredible work – above and beyond expectations in the Rosary Garden and our front sign. If you need a tremendous landscaping company, please contact Next to Nature Landscape – they are true professionals! Many have noticed the west side of the building has been cleaned up and new plantings are in place. Our senior, Noah Grace (also operating his own landscape company) spent weeks making major improvements and adding much needed color and texture to the entry area.
With regard to learning, you are aware that our hybrid structure allows in-person instruction every other day. Students at home utilize Google Classroom to interact with the teacher and the class when possible. At the current time, we do not have live camera capability in classrooms. Zoom is a tool for instructional “delivery” – not capturing live instruction since the camera is in the teacher’s stationary device. On its face, this appears like students are getting half the instruction. In reality, our situation is like a college environment where students attend a three-hour lecture once a week and are expected to prepare for three hours prior to the lecture. In high school, we often refer to a “flipped classroom” mechanism for learning. Students prepare in advance of a lab or activity - to make content cogent and its applications well-grounded. Our faculty is fully aware of pacing and content mastery on a schedule that does not allow falling behind or matriculating to the next grade level deficient.
In closing, I thank you for your tolerance of these unique times. Interestingly, COVID has tended to make us re-think our values and add meaning to the sanctity of life, the fragile nature of health, and ultimately gain empathy for those who must endure the potentially deadly effects of the virus. We are blessed to have the promise of our faith; we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
P.S. Your students have really done a GREAT job complying with new procedures. Go Saints!!