After the Quebec government declared schools would be closed due to coronavirus, in March, The Sacred Heart School of Montreal was one of the first private schools in Quebec to launch online learning for all of its students. Sacred Heart students each have their own Chromebook and use Google for Education. Students began their online learning immediately and thrived.
Online learning this spring was effective at Sacred Heart because, whether in class or online, every student counts. The rigorous, personalized academic approach and small class sizes that families love matter more than ever. Teachers and administrators provide all the support needed for the girls to reach their potential, and no one is left behind. One of the many advantages of a small school is that students and faculty share a close bond. One student put it this way, “My teachers know me and I feel that I can easily communicate with them.”
Staying Connected During Distance Learning
During the spring term, students attended a full schedule of “live” classes Tuesday to Friday, from 9 am to noon. Classwork was done in the afternoons, allowing students plenty of time to relax with their families, take a break, and exercise. Attendance was taken daily, and teachers followed up with each student to ensure they stayed motivated despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Not just classes moved online: All student services continue to be offered, virtually. This included appointments with personal counselors, the academic counselor, the librarian, after-class with teachers, and even office hours with the Head of School. Current families, staff, and alumnae joined together for virtual masses. Even the school’s house system (think Harry Potter) and student council elections moved online this spring.
Why choose an all girls school?
One of the reasons students at Sacred Heart say their school is a place where “young girls feel safe to express themselves” and “everyone is supportive of each other and that no one is afraid to show their true colours” is that it is an all girls school. A survey done in the US found that nearly 87 percent of girls’ school students feel their voices – their opinions – are respected compared to 58 percent of girls at coed schools. Sacred Heart offers girls leadership opportunities beginning in grade 7, and the Alumnae Association supports them even after graduation.
As part of the global Sacred Heart Network of schools, with over 150 schools in 41 countries, The Sacred Heart School of Montreal commits to educating students to 5 key goals. They are: a personal and active faith in God; a deep respect for intellectual values; a social awareness which impels to action; building of community; and personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.
During the students’ time in confinement, community service continued to happen online: students reached out to older alumnae to do check-ins, drew pictures for local organizations, offered virtual babysitting services to faculty and staff, and recorded themselves reading stories to share with local elementary school students. They also made videos to show their gratitude for essential workers, and shared tips for a healthy mindset during this time. When it was possible, many families volunteered their time and services to those in need.
At Montreal’s only all girls English Catholic high school, such initiatives often come from the students themselves. As one student recently said, “SHSM is a school where everyone is valued and heard.”