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  Diocese of Joliet Catholic schools meet the challenge of at home learning

Diocese of Joliet Catholic schools meet the challenge of at home learning 

Crest Hill, IL — One way or another, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all and is changing the way we live our lives. This is most certainly the case for thousands of students attending Catholic schools across the Diocese of Joliet. Learning doesn’t stop just because everyone is at home. Diocese of Joliet Catholic schools are rising to the challenge to meet the academic needs of students, ensuring they are following suggested lesson plans and completing their assignments through at home learning. 

From teachers and principals to student families and school board members, all have recognized the uncharted waters in which we find ourselves.

Nicole Murray, school board president at Cathedral of St. Raymond Catholic School in Joliet said, “Less than a month ago we were all together at our school board meeting just thinking about being separated by six feet. We couldn’t imagine the separation we are currently experiencing. In that meeting, we didn't even discuss learning from home, but today look at what we’ve accomplished in two weeks of at home learning.”

Our schools have a lot to celebrate.

The work our teachers are doing to provide a Catholic education to our students using new delivery methods while our school buildings are closed is impressive. In addition to providing instruction online, they are spending countless hours adapting lesson plans and are also out in their school communities delivering classroom materials to student’s homes.

Superintendent Rev. John Belmonte, S.J., Ph.D., said, “Their professionalism, dedication to our Catholic school mission and genuine faith lived for others is an inspiration to us all. We are grateful for their teaching, creativity, patience and generosity.” 

On St. Patrick’s Day, teacher Deanna Wolff, from St. Mary Catholic School in Mokena, shared with her fifth graders how the shamrock represents the Blessed Trinity by creating one out of round pretzels. She invited them to also make shamrocks out of materials they had at home and to send her photos of their creations.

A great team of principals are leading with grace while encouraging their school communities that we will make it through this challenging time. They are leading school prayer with online videos and spending time with students through Zoom class meetings. They are connecting with their peers to share best practices on maintaining our holistic approach to academics focused on the religious, social, physical, emotional and moral needs of our students while being a source of strength and support for each other.

Our teachers and school leadership are doing their best to maintain proactive, candid and open communication with each student’s family.

Colleen Abbot, a parent at Cathedral of St. Raymond Catholic School, said, “I don’t think words can adequately capture how blown away we are by the work that our principal and our teachers have done. Their outstanding efforts have been sustaining for our family and our school community.” 

Deena Majszak, a parent at Bishop McNamara Catholic School in Kankakee, said, “I am so very thankful for our school, teachers, principals, school administration and everyone that worked to make remote learning a smooth transition. My children are still getting the quality education they received in the classroom minus the cheerful faces of the teachers.”

Teachers are collaborating with parents at home to ensure students are receiving instruction. Parents are juggling their own work from home while facilitating access to technology for their child’s schoolwork and connections to their teachers and classmates. They are very engaged at home with 95 percent of school parents logging in to our student information system since at home learning began on March 16 and, most importantly, 100 percent of our students with accounts have logged in.  

School parents across the diocese were surveyed this week about their at home learning experiences. Comments were overwhelmingly positive with parents also providing suggestions for improvement.

Will County

A parent from St. Jude Catholic School in Joliet said, “I liked that the teachers informed us of their high expectations and the kids liked how each teacher told them exactly what was due and when.”

Comments from St. Dennis Catholic School in Lockport parents included, “The teachers and staff have been amazing with communication and providing work for my children to continue learning,” “I am beyond impressed with the quality of work, responsiveness and support” and “I feel like the teachers are doing a great job staying connected with us and keeping the kids engaged!”

A parent from St. Joseph Catholic School in Manhattan said, “As an educator myself, St. Joe’s is doing a fine job engaging my kids in this tough time.”

Comments from St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Joliet parents included, “We appreciate everything they are doing to make this situation work,” “I believe the teachers and school are doing an excellent job! They are awesome and we thank them for all their hard work,” and “I would just like to thank the teachers and staff for pulling all of this together so quickly. This is a learning curve for all of us and reminds us how very fortunate we are to have such wonderful and truly caring teachers.”

A parent from Cathedral of St. Raymond Catholic School said, “Incredible work that you and all of the faculty and staff have put in to keep life as normal as possible for our family!”

Kankakee County

A grandparent from Bishop McNamara Catholic School said, “Bishop McNamara teachers are doing a great job keeping track of all their students. I am thankful they are so engaged.”

DuPage County

Comments from St. Raphael Catholic School in Naperville parents included, “The teachers and administration have really risen to the challenge and we so appreciate their commitment to our students!”, “With all the uncertainty in the world right now, the teachers have been able to keep the students engaged, while at the same time, not overwhelming them with work.” and “I’d like to commend the faculty for their dedication and commitment under such extraordinary circumstances. Lesson plans continue to be carried out with thoughtful execution, and teachers seem genuinely interested in the ongoing needs of the student. I appreciate the use of web-based technology to assist in creating a virtual, yet personal classroom and am thankful to staff for sharing their ideas with one another and communicating online resources to parents.”

Our pastors also continue to be very involved and are celebrating Mass with students and families participating online from home. They are leading prayers, providing lessons and reading stories on video.

Most importantly, our school communities recognize this is not just happening to us; it is happening to many communities throughout the world. God commanded us to love and support one another. And the Diocese of Joliet Catholic school community is doing just that.

Visit our At Home Learning photo and video galleries at http://www.dioceseofjoliet.org/cso/subsectioncontent.php?secid=5&subsecid=39


About the Diocese of Joliet Catholic Schools

The Diocese of Joliet serves nearly 17,000 students in 47 elementary schools, eight high schools and two preschools in five counties including DuPage, Grundy, Kankakee, Kendall and Will. The second largest school system (public or private) in the western/southwestern suburban region, We Teach More as our students are formed in the image of Christ and achieve ahead of their peers while they study with great teachers. They are treated as individuals and taught to make the right choices because they realize that they belong to something bigger than themselves. Visit www.weteachmore.org to learn more about the benefits and values of Catholic education.   



Mercy Robb

Director of Catholic School Marketing and Enrollment Management

 Diocese of Joliet


(815) 221-6124


Mercy Robb, Director of Catholic School Marketing and Enrollment Management

Diocese of Joliet


(815) 221-6124

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