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April 23, 2020
ST. JOSEPH, MI: Weeks before Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s initial closure of Michigan’s K-12 schools, Lake Michigan Catholic was already preparing for online learning. Innovation, adaptability and creativity have kept LMC’s pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school students learning despite their classrooms being closed. As a result, there has been no lull in learning since the statewide closure.
“As soon as COVID-19 hit Michigan, we knew it wasn’t a question of if schools would close, but when the order would come down,” says LMC Middle/High School principal James White. “I’ve always told students that prior planning prevents poor performance, and our proactive approach has set LMC students up for success.”
White accelerated plans for 1:1 technology at the middle/high school and met with all students before the closure to go through the mechanics and expectations of online learning. Teachers started using online tools during their in-person classes to help students acclimate to the different platforms and methods.
Mathematics teacher Allison Gleiss says her 12th grade statistics class began looking at the COVID-19 data in early March. Students confidently applied their knowledge and had critical discussions about how to “flatten the curve.” They quickly grasped the need to limit exposure and contact.
“Our students are immensely curious and determined,” says Gleiss. “They have embraced online learning and consistently offer honest feedback about what platforms and structures provide the best support.” Photos here.
Online learning started on Monday, March 16 for elementary students and Tuesday, March 17 for middle/high school students. LMC has supported elementary families with Chromebooks and hard copies of materials as needed. Students as young as three years old have daily interactions with their teachers through Google Classrooms and other virtual tools, according to LMC Elementary School principal Larry Hoskins.
“We recognize that parental involvement is crucial, especially for our young learners,” says Hoskins. “Parent feedback and lots of communication are helping us continually adapt to this unprecedented situation. It’s certainly a challenge, but we know that engaging our students academically, socially and spiritually is essential.”
Middle and high school students use their school-issued Chromebooks to connect with teachers on a daily schedule that cover 3-4 periods per day. Teachers use a blend of online platforms to deliver in-person and pre-recorded lessons, facilitate class discussion and offer individual support. Homework is due daily, and Fridays are designated as enrichment days, allowing students to follow up on incomplete work or explore other activities.
“For us, there was never the uncertainty of whether this time would ‘count’ for our students,” explains White. “As a private school, we can simply go about the essential business of providing an exceptional education. Our students are learning, getting graded on their work and being assessed on their successful grasp of the material.”
Lake Michigan Catholic is a private pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Catholic school dedicated to nourishing the human spirit – mind, body and soul – though Jesus Christ. Learn more at