Saint Mary’s School believes that it is imperative that the weather does not interrupt the important learning that is happening in the classrooms, and the school is fortunate to be able to use virtual learning as a tool to support the students’ ongoing academic efforts and ensure their continued success. To that end, Saint Mary’s School will have virtual learning days on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Thursday, Feb. 13, leading into the regularly scheduled long Winter Break weekend.
“In January, we had our first virtual learning day,” says Dean of Teaching and Learning Sarah Hanawald. “We were grateful for everyone’s flexibility and commitment to giving this experience a try. We were also impressed with our students’ hard work and our teachers’ thoughtful efforts. In fact, we were so pleased with the outcomes, that we decided we will continue to offer virtual learning days, when possible, in lieu of the old ‘snow day’ model. Normally when school closes on a snow day, learning is interrupted, and the rhythm of the school year is fragmented. The negative impact can be felt for several days after the weather clears as students and teachers scramble to regain momentum. It is exciting that Saint Mary’s is able to again offer this learning opportunity to our students. We also believe this is good preparation for our students for college, since research tells us that most students will take at least one online course as part of their college education.”
All students will receive assignments from their teachers online that need to be completed and turned in electronically by the stated deadlines. Saint Mary’s boarding students will have study conditions during the day in their dorm rooms. Day students will work from home. Teachers will have virtual office hours during the school day so students can reach them by email. Each class period will also have a designated time during which teachers will be available in a live chat room.
“And, when it comes to snow day fun, the students can still drink hot chocolate as they study and go sledding after their school work is completed,” says Hanawald.
Saint Mary’s one-to-one convertible tablet program, which equips all students and teachers with a Lenovo tablet computer, and 24/7 wireless networked campus allow students to use technology to learn in and out of the classroom and make a virtual learning day a viable educational experience.
About Saint Mary’s School: Saint Mary's School in Raleigh, N.C., is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory, boarding and day school dedicated to academic excellence and personal achievement for girls in grades 9-12. Visit www.sms.edu for complete information.