- Adrian de Vernou ’22
The transition to distance learning has affected everybody within the SHP community, including students, teachers, and faculty members. However, some groups on campus were more dependent on physical interactions than others. Due to the shift to an online model, college counselors, personal counselors, and coaches have had to find new and creative ways to get in touch with students and organize events.
One of the most important end goals for students at Sacred Heart is finding a college, which is why the school offers such a robust college counseling program. Upperclassmen have been interacting with college counselors all year long, and this time of year is especially important for Juniors when it comes to getting ready for college applications. However, with school now being online, how are college counselors interacting with students? Of course, college counselors, like all faculty members, use Zoom. However, Ms. Lauri Badar, Director of College Counseling, says, “In addition to Zoom, we continue to communicate with students through our college counseling platforms – Scoir and Naviance. These programs are really the backbone of keeping students’ college processes organized, from the first steps of searching for college options up until making a final decision.” To provide context to the underclassmen, Scoir and Naviance are both applications used to help students, parents, and counselors with college searching and preparation for the college process. It is also important for college counselors to stay connected amongst themselves, and Ms. Badar states that, “We exchange texts when a matter might be urgent or we pick up the phone to call one another. Additionally, we have moved our weekly meeting to a Zoom environment and we’ve doubled up on these meetings twice a week because so much of what we do as a team is interactional and without being in each others’ physical presence, we have to be more intentional about seeing one another.” By staying connected with students and one another, college counselors are still extremely proactive with their work and helping with students. When asked how distance learning has most affected college counseling, Ms. Badar commented that, “Just like your classes, while life has changed dramatically, our shared work, our learning, our goals have all remained intact, so we’re treating distance learning as a challenge and an opportunity to hone some new skills.” Ms. Badar added, “The college counselors think that all of our students will have added a strength to their repertoire of academic skills as they continue to work hard in their learning outside of campus.”
However, college counselors are not the only people that have been affected by distance learning. Personal counselors have also had to modify their work in order to stay connected with students and each other. Ms. Spenser Leverett, the SHP Personal Counselor, says, “As the personal counselor, I am also staying connected to students through individual virtual check-ins and conversations. I am available to support any student, with whatever may be arising for them at this time.” Ms. Leverett adds that, “If students would like to set up a time, they can send me an email to schedule an appointment.” The work of being a personal counselor for students involves interacting with students in need as much as possible, and it is clear that Mrs. Leverett is continuing to do that, even if she is not able to see students in person. However, school distance learning has affected Mrs. Leverett the most in the sense that she, “[has] less student drop-ins than if I were in my office at school.
The last major part of SHP life that has been significantly altered has been athletics. Of course, all Spring seasons have been cancelled, but that isn’t to say that coaches are out of the picture. Coach Holly Brown, Head Athletic Trainer, says that she and other coaches remain connected with students, “via email and through Zoom meetings.” Coach Matthew Haack, Director of Athletic Performance, believes that maintaining fitness during this quarantine is extremely important. Coach Haack comments that, “I can’t speak for all the sport coaches, but I know that a few are coordinating via Zoom with their athletes. They are providing sport specific plans with athletic performance plans to keep our athletes safe and strong.” Clearly, coaches and athletic trainers are trying to maintain a connection with their athletes and keep them in shape for future seasons through Zoom sessions. Coach Haack also describes how coaches are remaining in contact with one another in other creative ways, including that, “Mr. Simon [the All-Schools AD] has started a book club that keeps us engaged with each other.” When asked on how quarantine has most affected coaches and trainers, Coach Haack comments that, “The quarantine has forced me to be creative and come up with ways to get information to the students without overwhelming them. I want to make sure everyone stays healthy and strong so we can all hit the ground running when we get back.”
While distance learning has impacted everybody in the SHP community, it is important to remember that the departments that seem harder to access, like college counseling and personal coaching, are still providing outlets to interact with students. All of SHP’s cherished academic and athletic mentors are a simple email or Zoom call away and that they are willing to offer their help and resources during the remainder of the year.
Photo provided by Katie Sandhu ’21