July 6

July is upon us and hard as it is to believe, 2020 is halfway over. I hope everyone had a safe and celebratory 4th of July weekend…I’m sure you can guess that mine centered around the premier of Hamilton on Disney Plus. It did not disappoint at all; even after having seen it onstage twice, nothing compared to seeing this original cast- what a wonderful way to ring in the 4th this year. 

And now, having enjoyed the long weekend, many of us are “back to work” today- whether that work is in person or remote. The Board and Administration at SDA have already been devoting their time to various workstream projects- focusing on teacher workshops and training, schedule and handbook revisions, social emotional and diversity based curriculum, as well as hiring practices and Board expansion. We will all be picking up where we left off last week, as well as working on finalizing plans for opening in September, increasing faculty training on hybrid and remote learning, having two administrators, myself and Mrs. Buge trained to earn COVID-19 Safety Manager certification, and the entire staff is working with New York Life Insurance to become certified as a Grief Sensitive School.

While all this is taking place, each teacher is working to reassess and reevaluate his or her curriculum: adding new readings and lessons, updating prior guidelines and broad based plans, and for our AP classes, ensuring that the curriculum we are using is in line with all of the most recent College Board standards. Some days, each of us is “nonstop” ( you see, I got a Hamilton quote in here!) as we are tireless in our goal to ensure that we can offer each young lady in our SDA family the most well rounded, challenging, and exceptional educational experience this coming year. 

In that vein, today I am happy to give a quick sneak peak into the AP Literature and Composition curricular readings for the 2020-2021 school year. The course, which has been available to seniors at SDA for a number of years is revised time and again; with a suggested list of over 400 authors who may appear on the exam, each teacher who has instructed this class has made it personal and special his or her own way- selecting works each felt were exceptional examples of literature- ones that would work to ensure a high score on the free response section. AP Literature is the culmination of four years of honors level course work in English at SDA and the readings from 9th through 11th are geared to cover some of the authors who may appear on the exam. In 12th grade, in addition to intense study of poetry and short story in preparation for the objective assessment portion, scholars are required to engage in in-depth novel studies; all fictional as per The College Board, in order to develop and enhance their literary analysis skills, in preparation for the essay portion of the exam. 

As I said, with over 400 authors to chose from, each teacher selects a Reading List that reflects a timely curriculum, one that will “speak” to the young women in the class. This year, as the course changes hands, a new reading list has been selected- one that reflects some of the changes we at SDA are making in our curriculum, as we strive to offer more diversity within our courses of study. The list for the 2020-2021 school year is as follows:

Beloved by Toni Morrison: Using the real life tragic story of slave Margaret Garner, this novel appears on the AP exam free response almost yearly; it’s complex text about ghosts and guilt, about the choice between life as a slave and death at the hands of a loving parent is heartbreaking and emotional and a must read. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Another AP favorite, this dystopian novel is now a popular TV miniseries- which I’ve heard captures the mood of the book perfectly. Hard to read, especially for young women, it is nevertheless an important look at our dangerous the future could become, if all are not truly treated equal. 

The Wedding by Dorothy West: A shorter read, but an important one. Set in The Oval, a upper class black community in Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950’s, it walks us through a mixed race wedding, where our white groom is unsure of his place in this wealthy family. The family, hiding secrets of its own and not altogether comfortable with their own mixed race status, would prefer their daughter to marry within The Oval community. Often overlooked, West’s final novel is a masterpiece. 

Othello by William Shakespeare: Everyone knows the tale; if only Othello had been given the advice to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, he may have avoided his fate. Distrusted because of his race, looked down upon for marrying Desdemona, but praised for his military heroics- it’s no wonder the seeds of doubt planted by Shakespeare’s most evil villain Iago bring about the downfall of our hero and his wife. Jealousy, insecurities, and rage prove to be a fatal mix. 

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner: This family may well be the polar opposite of the family created by Dorothy West, which will make for interesting compare/contrast analysis. Told from the POV of over 25 characters, this poor Southern family’s quest to bury their mother is harrowing and eerie all at once. Another AP favorite, for sure. 

Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot: It’s hard to imagine this beautiful poem was penned by the man who brought us the inspiration for CATS. Light years away in content and form from dancing felines, it tells the story of religious conflicts between church and state, and on a more personal level, between two friends as well. Culminating in the murder of Saint Thomas Becket; this is a showcase of how history can be blended with literature to create a moving and compelling tale. 

Atonement by Ian McEwan: This was selected most especially for its message about the dangers and perils of lying and spreading gossip. Perhaps no other modern novel immerses readers in the depths of a lie of this proportion and outlines quite so clearly how it has devastating results on everyone’s lives. A good foil for Shakespeare’s play, the ending will shock each reader. 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker: An epislitory novel, written as letters to God, Walker’s book has been a must read for AP scholars since it was penned. It’s unique style alone makes it worthy of an AP level study and the content, so rich in colorful descriptions and featuring themes of identity, self worth, female empowerment, and love in all forms, is moving and soul stirring. Readers won’t see purple in nature ever again without thinking of God. 

Wicked by Gregory Maguire: A newer choice, one that allows scholars to see how a “classic” tale can be re-spun and reinvented for a new generation. More than just a peek into the World of Oz and a fanciful story of how someone becomes the wicked witch, this novel deals with the ideas of discrimination, jealousy, social climbing, abandonment by a parent, and political power and oppression. And, most timely for our young ladies, it features a strong, empowered female protagonist–the cities may be emerald and the monkeys may be flying, but at the heart of the novel, the obstacles faced by Elphaba hit very close to life as many of us may know it. 

That’s a small look into our ever changing, ever growing curricular endeavors at SDA. Moving forward in the coming weeks, we will be sharing more updates with our SDA community: on curriculum expansions, faculty workshops and webinars and the like…stay tuned to hear all that is taking place at SDA. 

June 29

Here we are, at the end of June already. Had it been any other summer season, I am certain that most of you would be either packing up for vacations, or returning from early summer vacations. Planning for August trips, booking overnight stays at theme parks, attending summer intramural sporting events…how many of us will even look to do any of those things this summer? While you know from my blog a few weeks ago that I have been heading out here and there- it is with extreme caution and usually followed up by a period of staying home. Nobody can be too careful and even now, months from when this pandemic began, there is no such thing, in my mind at least, as too safe.

I am sure many of you tuned in to hear Governor Murphy on Friday, as he released the NJ Guidelines for a return to school in the fall. I was saddened by the fact that he only saw fit to mention private and parochial schools once during his briefing. What I heard him say was what I had predicted all along- the districts will set up a plan that best ensures the health and safety of the students, that adheres to all requirements for social distancing in the guidelines, and that ensures that the faculty and staff take precautions and stay safe as well. Our Governor is trusting those who run school districts in New Jersey to make decisions for the students under their care. As he has done in other instances since COVID-19 began rampaging our state- he’s letting the experts weigh in and make decisions. 

And what of us in private education? Well, we will certainly look to the model that the district sets up; however what works for the public high schools in Jersey City may or may not be what works best for Saint Dominic Academy. As a private school, we will look to both district guidelines as well as to our own experts- our administration, teachers, parents, board members, and students themselves–because we want to ensure that, while we fully adhere to the guidelines, we offer a plan that we feel is the most beneficial, most successful and of course, the safest for the students entrusted to us. I can assure you that, as we always are, Saint Dominic Academy has been extremely proactive in planning and in evaluating the best way to safely return in September.

Our Remote Advisory Committee has been working for over a month; attending webinars, researching different models of learning, and meeting weekly with administrators via Zoom. All of our teachers will be attending Professional Development training for remote learning methods, should we need to implement them. Different department members have also been sent to training and workshops and we have more scheduled in the coming weeks. We have, just last week, surveyed our parents, asking them their thoughts about the feasibility of returning to school, of their comfort level in social distancing, after school sports and activities, et al. I thank all the parents who took the time to respond- especially those who provided written feedback in the comments section. Prior to surveying the parents, we had our students complete surveys on virtual learning for every class they took during 2019-2020 and our teachers completed surveys as well. We have had calls with consultants about social distance measures including, but of course not limited to, face shields, glass barriers in labs, temperature scans…the list is endless. 

Do I, at this moment, at the end of June have a a final plan that I can put into your hands? No- not as yet. However, I want to reassure you that we have not one, but several draft models mapped out- each one looking at different ways to ensure that your daughter gets the full Saint Dominic Academy experience; academic, athletic, and social- to the very best of our ability, while still making the health and safety of your daughters, your families, and our faculty and staff a number one priority. 

We will have our plan to you in the coming weeks…and if any parent wishes to talk one on one with a member of the administration to discuss concerns or fears about what the fall of 2020 will look like, please just reach out and we will schedule a call to talk. 

We’re not out of the woods yet…but we are, as we have been since 1878- a family, a sisterhood, and we will do everything in our power to meet your needs, exceed your expectations, and keep your children safe. I offer my continued daily prayers to all of our families- may God keep us safe, keep us healthy, and be with us as we continue to experience losses, great and small, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, I ask you to join me in prayer for the lives lost- may they rest in peace. 

June 22

The end of June is almost upon us already; nearly a month since our beloved Class of 2020 held the first ever virtual commencement ceremony in the history of Saint Dominic Academy. All throughout the planning process, the Administration and faculty of Saint Dominic Academy assured our seniors that, once we could- we would do our best to gather them together for a final live farewell to their teachers, their school, and each other. The memories they would have made from March to May were taken away from them, not through any controllable situation but because of the world wide pandemic of COVID-19.

The virus is, as we know, still among us. We must all still take care, be cautious and venture into this reopening of our world with tiny steps. However, we have reached the moment when we can gather together and celebrate and in a little less than a month, that is exactly what the Class of 2020 will do. 

A Save the Date for July 20, 2020 was sent out this week to our recent graduates. A faculty committee, joined by five members of the Class of 2020 has been working tirelessly to plan this event and the details, including a online RSVP link will go out by the end of this week. We at SDA cannot wait to see our seniors, decked out in their caps and gowns, gathered at SDA; to receive yearbooks and awards, to laugh and talk with friends, to pose for celebratory photos, and of course to thank the teachers who helped and guided them through their time at Saint Dominic Academy. 

My heartfelt thanks to the committee for working with the Administration on this event, to the parents and friends of the Class of 2020, for believing us when we said we would do all we could do to ensure a gathering like this took place over the summer, and most especially to our graduates—thank you, for your maturity in the face of disappointment, your understanding in the face of sadness, and above all for your patience and faith in all of us at 2572 Kennedy Boulevard. The time has come to bring you “home” one last time before college and to celebrate you the way you deserve to be celebrated!

Keep an eye on your email this week for the invite and RSVP. See you in July, Class of 2020!

June 15

Emily Dickinson tells us hope is the thing with feathers… and although I’ve been an English teacher for over 20 years, I never gave much thought to that quote before. However, it’s been running through my head this entire weekend. You see, as our state begins to re-open, I took a ride to the Jersey shore. That’s right, I went not “to the beach” but as we from NJ say proudly, “down the shore.” Now I did not venture into the ocean yet- not because of social distancing, but because it’s just too chilly for me, but on Friday evening, I took a walk on the Seaside Heights boardwalk.

Now, I’ve been walking those boards since I could walk; I remember the old Log Flume and when the Beachcomber was built out over the sand, and the roller coaster that’s now iconic, due to the haunting image of it in the sea after Hurricane Sandy. I’ve had Midway fries since I had teeth and gotten sick after eating a candy apple and going on the Tilt- A Whirl…the list is endless. However, never in almost 43 years would I describe Seaside Heights as “paradise” or a “haven”. Fun, sure! Exciting, you bet! A little wild, depending on whether you ventured into Bamboo or one of the many other nightclubs just off the boards…absolutely! But a thing of pure beauty—no even my poetic soul never saw it that way.

Until Friday night…and perhaps that change has little to do with where I was and more to do with the fact that I was somewhere. I have a feeling, people all over NJ and all over the United States are experiencing or soon will be experiencing the same emotions as I was. Play a wheel of chance? Sure- step right up; never mind that I’ve thrown out bags of boardwalk prizes in the past almost 9 years. Ice cream before dinner? Of course you can have it- sprinkle or no sprinkles? Fudge, taffy, a quick peek at the rides- not yet open but with a promising sign saying “opening soon”…well it’s enough to make anyone’s heart flutter.

Paradise, I think , for many of us is just that tangible place we venture when we want to feel hope and joy. What makes a place paradise is how it makes us feel inside. What I saw on Friday was beautiful- I saw people smiling at each other, saying excuse me, casually exchanging words like “beautiful sunset” and “so nice to be out” as they stood six feet apart in lines waiting for a snack, a drink, or a chance to play a game. I heard children’s laughter- not just the sweet laugh of one child in her house, but echoing, ringing laugher that seemed to come from everywhere all at once. I saw grandparents holding tiny hands and I would swear I saw tears on some of their cheeks-just to be able to hold that tiny hand in theirs had to be paradise for them. I myself could not stop smiling, could not stop planting kisses on my child’s cheek as she laughed and ran up and down the boardwalk, and what’s more, I could not stop noticing that everyone around us was happy, content, and just full of joy to be outside. 

Reopening has to happen slowly, I agree with that wholeheartedly. Precautions have to be taken, and regulations have to be set in place. We cannot, as a state, as a country, as the human race just skyrocket back to the way we were before and forget our lockdown as if it was a bad dream we thankfully awoke from. We have to remember and be careful, lest we wind up repeating it in the not too distant future. We have to remember it for other reasons as well- those intangible reasons that don’t have as much to do with physical health and safety as they do with our state of mind and how, now more than ever, it can encourage us all to be better, more grateful, and more appreciative people. 

I didn’t know Seaside brought me so much joy until I was home in my living room for almost 100 days. Each of you, each of us, now gets to experience a series of “firsts” over and over again- and that’s a gift we’ve earned after all our weeks at home, and that’s a gift we should treasure. First hug between grandpa and grandson. First meal at a restaurant. First time seeing friends. First time back on a swing, on a golf course, in a hair salon…and most joyful for me, the first time I’m able to step into Our Lady of Mercy Church and attend mass…well, I think for a while it will feel a little bit like Christmas morning every time we gain back one of those things we used to do with no thought to it.

It seems, now, as if we’ve done a good job of weathering the storm; we can see the rainbow on the other side. We can have hope once again. We can feel joy once again. What we have to remember to try to do- as we move forward is to retain that happiness, to let our best selves shine through, to be kind and welcoming to others at all times, and of course to take moments to pray for those we lost—

Let us not ever once forget them for a moment, as they cannot be here today to celebrate the joy we will all feel as we slowly but surely reopen our world. 

7-11th Grade Message

Normally, this blog would be the text of the speech I gave at the Commencement Ceremony. However, since the ceremony is on our social media where everyone can watch it, it seemed redundant to post the written speech when readers who want to share in my “insights” for class of 2020 can hear them by watching the ceremony. So instead, I decided to share my final message of the 2019-2020 school year, which was sent to the young ladies in grades 7 to 11 last week. They’ve all been exceptional during this period of remote learning and I wanted to motivate them to keep up their dedication to their studies during the summer months…

You’ve made it to the last week of the school year. I know it has not been the easiest year, especially from March onward ( and even before March we had our share of “adventures” this year!) but you’ve done an exceptional job and you should each be extremely proud of yourselves. 

I wanted to take today, as you begin to daydream about all the “downtime” you’ll have this summer, to share with you- for those that don’t know- that I began my teaching career 20 years ago, in 2000 as an English teacher. While the first two years, I taught SAT prep, from 2002 onward, I have always taught at least one English class during my career. You all know this has not changed, as I continue to teach an English elective at SDA each year.

Nothing was more fun for me, when I taught English full time, than to select the novels that were going to be read over the summer. I always wanted the summer reading to be fun, to be enjoyable and to inspire in each student a love of reading. Your English teachers this year have done the same and have chosen some wonderful works for you to read over the summer months.

Mrs. Good will be sharing the list with your parents, via email and I know your teachers have shared the summer reading lists with you.  Because I feel that summer reading is so important and essential- I’m also sharing it here…along with some “thoughts.”

To Kill A Mockingbird- a classic- pure and simple. In my Film class, the father in this novel is considered to be the Number 1 Hero in Film…and when you read the book, you’ll know why!

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon-  In my top ten favorite books of ALL TIME! I miss teaching it so much- anyone who wants to chat about it over the summer…just email me. Ask any girl at SDA who took my 9th honors class about “Trisha” and they can give you an earful! You’re going to LOVE it.

Shoeless Joe-  As all American as apple pie. Sports, fantasy, family…I bet you’ll cry at the end. And if you don’t…ask your dads/grandpas if they cried at Field of Dreams!

Love Is a Mixtape- Goodness! I’ve not read it, although I’ve read others by the author. You let me know if I should give it a try!

This Side of Paradise- Anything by Fitzgerald is amazing! If you like this over the summer…wait until you get to the symbolism of the green light at the end of Gatsby’s dock next year!

On The Road-  Not going to lie- a hard read, but well worth it. And since we won’t be taking many road trips this summer, a virtual one with a acclaimed author is the way to see America over the summer!

Pride and Prejudice- I love it so much, when Abby was a baby she had the Baby Lit Board book version. It’s romantic, it’s got great leading ladies, and it’s witty. You will enjoy it!

The Metamorphosis-  read it for first time as a junior in high school- could not get over the concept so I disliked it very much. Read it again in college- it broke my heart.  Don’t wait till college to appreciate this book- it’s short enough that you can read it twice if you need to in order to get over the visual and get to the heart of the matter.

Never Let Me Go- So, you know how Facebook keeps your memories and reminds you of them? When I read this- it left such an impression that I posted about it and every year I am chilled for a few minutes when I reflect on this novel. You’ll like it…it will make you think.

The Alchemist- A must read- for AP for sure, but for everyone! 

The Glass Menagerie- know what would be fun? To get on a daily Zoom with your friends and read it aloud! Drama is meant to be read aloud and when you hear the words, you will feel the moods of the characters. The phrase “gentlemen callers” will be a part of your vocabulary  forever. 

Of Mice and Men-  Many have read it before, I know.  It has been a “staple” of English classes since I was in high school and with good reason. If you haven’t read it- get tissues for the last chapter. If you have- trust me and do the re-read…its interesting how your view can change in just four years ( see my blog on Wicked for more insights on changing viewpoints!)

Well, ladies- there’s my unsolicited advice on your summer reading and thank you for allowing me, not just as Head of School but as an English teacher at heart the chance to share with you my thoughts on the stories set before you this summer!

Memorial Day

Let’s take a moment today, to reflect on the following numbers:

American Soldiers Killed In War 

American Civil War 1861-1865:  755,000 lives lost

World War II 1941-1945:  405,399 lives lost 

World War I 1917-1918:   116, 516 lives lost 

Vietnam War 1961-1975:   58,209 lives lost 

Korean War 1950-1953:  36, 574 lives lost 

American Revolutionary War 1775-1783:   25,000 lives lost 

War of 1812 1812-1815:  15,000 lives lost 

Mexican American War 1846-1848:  13, 283 lives lost 

Iraq War 2003-2011:  4, 576 lives lost 

Phillipine American War 1899-1902:  4, 196 lives lost 

Spanish American War 1898:  2, 246 lives lost 

War in Afghanistan 2001- Present: 2, 216 lives lost 

The Gulf War 1990-1991:  294 lives lost 

Together, let us pray for the 1, 438, 509 men and women who died serving and protecting our country. 

Today, Memorial Day – they live on in our hearts and their service is not forgotten, 

“All Powerful God,
We honor today those men and women—
Our sons and daughters,
Husbands and wives,
Fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers—
Who have laid down their life for their country.
Whether weary or emboldened, quiet or defiant,
Vulnerable or ready when You called them home,
Their sacrifice is too humbling for words
except these uttered in prayer.
Loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace…
Cherish their spirit, honor their commitment,
send them our love,
and will never forget the service that they gave.”

A look back…

I knew this video was coming; when it arrived in my inbox on Friday afternoon, I was ready for it. I had some tissues next to me and Abby curled up against my side. As soon as those baby faces flashed across the screen, I had tears on my cheeks. No, I was not watching old family movies- I was watching a video, designed by Nicole Borrero class of 2020 and the Saint Dominic Academy Yearbook Staff. It showcased our beloved seniors from 9th grade until now. Their 9th grade year was my first as Head of School and I can look back and reflect how much growing and maturing has taken place, both on their part and my own. 

Four years ago, I was sending a child off to kindergarten, and their mothers and fathers were sending these graduating seniors off to their first day of high school. Four years ago, I was nervous and unsure as I sat behind my desk with that title of Head of School on my door. Four years ago, they were perhaps just as nervous as they sat in ELAN with Link Crew members, getting ready for the start of their freshmen year. We made it through- they and I and after four years have grown, become more confident, and have had many life changing experiences- some that made us cry and some that made us stronger.

I’ve said it often over the past almost 70 days- these young ladies in the class of 2020 are the strongest young women I have known and these obstacles that were hurled into their paths this past March would have made many people just break down and weep. I know I’ve done just that, late at night, on more than one occasion from March until now. Perhaps many of them have as well- but you’d never know it from their dedication to their classes, their spirited Instagram posts, their energetic emails to teachers and administrators, and most of all their continued love for each other and for the sisterhood of Saint Dominic Academy.

As I heard the end of the slide show, one thought hit me so hard I was almost knocked off my stool. As photos of Disney came on the screen, I realized- these are the last photos of the class that will appear in the show- at least photos of them together in large groups. And if I had not already been crying, that would have done it. What I have to believe, and what the class of 2020 has to believe- with all of our hearts is that those won’t be the last…not really. We will find a way to gather again- although we’re unsure when it will be. In the meantime, the memories captured here in this video will, I hope, make you smile, make you laugh, and I’m sure make you cry. And if the group photos contained within it end in the most magical place on earth, then that’s not a bad place to hit “pause” until we are all together again.

My love and congratulations to the class of 2020 on finishing all of your classes at Saint Dominic Academy…consider this blog a virtual hug from me to you.

Let us remember…

Over the past two months, if you haven’t looked at, posted, recieved a text featuring, or laughed over a coronavirs themed meme, then I’m going to assume you either have no internet access or you are a more focused person than I am. They’ve been making the rounds pretty much since the stay at home orders began and there’s no sign of them stopping anytime soon.

Have you seen the one that jokes about the summer and shows Godzilla walking across the ocean?

How about the one, that came out early on, saying we’re three weeks away from knowing everyone’s real hair color? ( I personally have passed that point..I am in need of some dye, ASAP).

How about the ones showing Tom Hanks from Cast Away and giving us a countdown to when a volleyball will become our new best friend?

Or the ones with the home layouts, renaming every room so it seems as if you’re going somewhere other than your house?

Then there’s the memes that joke about cruise prices going down, about people going to Zoom meetings from their beds, about dogs loving their humans being home and cats hating it.

For Disney fans, there’s the one that changes the lyrics to the Gaston song, and just try to read it without singing it in your head! Or Elsa has the school nurse, freezing kids coming near her because they might be carrying the virus. Or the Monsters Inc spoof…instead of a 2319, we have a COVID- 19. 

The fake diary entries detailing how people are eating their stockpiled snacks, the ones that tease about the panic over toilet paper and hand sanitizer… the ones where women list the things that are driving them crazy about their husbands….chewing, snoring, basically existing. 

And then of course there are the myriad of “Home Schooling” ones. You know, the things such as “ don’t worry if my kids are in the same pjs every day, my home school has a uniform.”  ” Don’t worry if you see me talking to myself, I’m having a parent teacher conference.”  ” If you see my kids locked outside, don’t panic, we’re having a fire drill.”  “Alexa…homeschool my children.”  ” How do I get my child transferred out of my class?”  The list is endless…there’s a new one every single day. 

My personal favorite was one that I sent to the SDA faculty and staff a week or so ago. I’ll share it…

personal assitant meme

I’ll admit it; I’ve texted the memes, I’ve laughed at the memes, I’ve posted the memes, I’ve shared the memes. Why? Because we all need to laugh a little bit and because some of them truly do capture the reality of this almost unreal situation. We need to smile, we need to find a reason to laugh, we need to not focus on the internal frustration, stress and anxiety that each one of us must be feeling on a daily basis.

However, there’s perhaps one more thing we need to do. There’s a time, every day when, at least in my house, I get very serious. It’s every day, when our Governor announces the death toll for NJ.  8, 952 people in New Jersey have died from COVID-19 since March. That’s a high number, a serious number, and a number that will hit 10,000 before this week ends. 

And so, perhaps in the midst of our frustration, in the midst of our smiles, there should also be the following:

Moments of prayer– for our essential workers, for those suffering with the virus, and for the families of those who have lost someone.

Moments of silence– for the over 8,000 people in our state alone who have lost their lives and for the lives lost all across America and the world.

Moments of mourning– for all the things, big and small that have been taken from our daily lives- lunches with friends, hugs from grandparents, First Communions, Graduations, Weddings, and even the ability to go lay flowers on a family member’s grave as they are laid to rest.

The Bible tells us:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace…

At any given moment over the past two months, it has been each of those times for each of us at some point or another.

Let us all, remember, each and every day to pray…prayers of thanksgiving that we are still healthy and safe, prayers of sorrow for all those we have lost, and prayers of petition, that the days and months ahead get brighter for us all. 

Every day, let us remember to find time for God.


This past Friday our seniors were surprised with a beautiful “gift” from their alumnae sisters. The work that went into this, the words of encouragement, praise and positivity, and the thoughtfulness behind the 15 minute video truly exemplify the SISTERHOOD that is Saint Dominic Academy. Is this time of year ideal for our class of 2020? Of course not, but they have over 140 years of sisterhood holding them up, bracing them against this current crisis, and embracing them virtually, with love, with good wishes, and with prayers from heaven. 

My thanks to Gigi Correa Diaz for putting together this gift for the seniors…I hope all of you enjoy it as much as the young ladies did.

Work From Home Adventures Pt. 3

Here we are in the last week of April and I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite sure how we got here. Oh, I know how I’ve been spending the days: Zoom calls, constant emails, “teaching” third grade, overseeing at home ballet class, cooking so much I feel like I could be the next Rachel Ray, checking temperatures “just in case” and basically trying my best to stay positive, for my students and staff, for my daughter who is handling this like a rockstar, and perhaps most importantly, for myself. I know once I lose the ability to get up each morning and find something new to make me smile, something new to learn how to do, or even some elaborate recipe to prepare, then I will have given up and that would let the sadness that has our country in its grip triumph over me. I’m not about to let that happen.

So, what did I learn this week? Oh, a few things…how to make brownies from scratch, ( not bad), how to make pulled pork in a slow cooker, ( excellent!) how to teach an 8 year old how to read and draw bar graphs for math class, ( challenging) and how to make cave art drawings ( I won’t share a picture!). I also learned a very important lesson- children are so resilient and able to see the fun in situations that drive us as adults out of our minds most of the time. Now, I have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney Plus, Broadway HD, Boomerang…at the touch of my fingertips there are literally thousands of things I can watch to unwind at the end of the day. Yet, in the weeks since March 12, I have watched exactly ONE new show- The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. ( Perhaps a mistake…I had nightmares for at least 3 nights!). I just can’t relax and unwind enough to really enjoy anything- no new shows have caught my interest and I even get frustrated at my old go-to shows. 

I know, I know, I started to say something about kids…and I brought up all of those channels to help illustrate my point. ( I do have one, I promise!) I got an email from Netflix this week, explaining how to set up a Watch Party. Basically, I pick a movie, send a link to friends and then we all can watch movie together. A little chat bar opens on the side of the movie so we can text back and forth in a big group discussion. Now, I have no interest in doing this- I don’t even like it when people talk during previews at the movies, but Miss Abby was so interested in the idea, I thought I’d let her try it out.

Abby picked The Grinch, had me invite some of her friends, and asked that they wear Christmas clothes and have snacks. I figured the fun of this “watch party” would wear off quickly. After all, they can’t see each other, and they have to type to communicate. Was I ever wrong! What a huge hit this was, not only with Abby but with her friends too. In fact, they begged to do it again the very next day. Now, all of her friends don’t know each other, but that did not stop them from chatting away and discussing, amongst other kid topics, the movie itself. As a Film teacher, I can’t tell you how proud that made me. Kids as young as 7 years old, talking about movies together and just finding yet another unique way to be in each other’s company.

Kids are resilient, and what I’m seeing from these young kids is amazing. It’s fun to go to virtual theater, taking dance classes via Outschool is something to look forward to every day, a remote book discussion club on an American Girl book is actually encouraging Abby to read more, and a Netflix party for 2 hours is a cause for day long excitement among her and her friends. Do they miss each other? Very much, I know. However they are adapting, and most days, adapting much better than I am.

I feel inspired when I see them “interacting”, my daughter and her friends. I feel excited even if just for a few moments at the fact that she can still have fun during all this. Most of all, I feel a sense of pride, as the mother of a strong little girl, one who will not let anything halt her day to day life. She may have to change the way she does things a bit, but she’s still going to play and laugh and hang out with her friends and find ways to cajole me into giving her more snacks ( what’s a movie party without snacks??). In short, she’s still going to be “her”…the girl I have loved for almost 9 years now. Many of you readers also have girls, older than mine, but also just as strong in your homes right now. Look to them daily when all of this seems to be just too much to bear. Look at their faces, as they log into TikTok, as they FaceTime, even as they talk to teachers via Zoom. 

Is this ideal? Not at all. Is this the life we want for our girls? Not by a long shot. But we can and should learn from them, to stay strong, stay smiling and stay positive in the face of this pandemic. We should, as they are, look for the silver linings that are offered to us (not just from Netflix) and to take advantage of them. In short, we should all embrace the “virtual party” until we can celebrate family and friends together in person once again.