Despite a year plagued with hurdles, St. Ursula Academy (SUA) continues its mission of developing the whole person in each student that walks through the school’s doors. Faculty, staff, and students are challenged and remain creative to transform into thinkers, leaders, nurturers, and prophets—the four pillars of SUA. Here’s how the SUA community continues to innovate and empower students and staff to thrive during an extra challenging year of learning.
Cultivating Thinkers: Keeping up with challenging academics and encouraging problem solving
Staff: The school administration developed a creative and evolving school schedule designed to manage the impact of COVID-19. The plan proved effective in mitigating the spread of coronavirus with several schools adopting schedules similar to the SUA hybrid model.
Students: Students were challenged to think creatively about schoolwork. The schedule included one remote learning day each week, which enabled students to learn how to develop systems and organizational skills to keep them on track.
Developing Leaders: Finding confidence to speak up and take initiative
Staff: Faculty and staff took the opportunity this year to make creative and bold decisions about the most engaging ways to learn in a safe and socially distanced environment. Administrators spent time gathering data and working with health experts to understand the impact of keeping students on campus during the pandemic.
Students: Student leaders were challenged to lead student groups and organizations in new ways. By using technology to meet virtually and engage others while remaining safe, students found a balance to continue activities. For example, student council leaders hosted a spirit week with themed costumes and the Girls Athletic Association created socially distanced hype videos for many of the fall sports teams.
Nurturers: Promoting self-care and taking care of others
Staff: Teachers make themselves available for virtual or in-person office hours to ensure students have the academic support they need. The school’s eight-member counseling team also shares a weekly newsletter with links to helpful articles. In meetings with students, counselors offer stress relief, wellness tips, and mental health resources.
Students: Students are encouraged to learn to nurture themselves, not just others. They can do so by finding activities that help them relax. The counseling department saw a 30% increase in colleges and universities requesting to meet with SUA students because they are able to offer meaningful online visit experiences during the pandemic. Additionally, girls can also spend time with SUA’s resident Therapy Dog, Angelo, when they need a little break.
Prophets: Taking action that inspires others to make a difference
- Love One Another: Student programming incorporates diversity, equity, and inclusion and campus ministry activities to encourage students to rely on their faith and values to “love thy neighbor.”
- Faith in Action Days: Students, teachers, and staff have the opportunity to put their faith into action through service and reflection. These days offer programming for each grade level that includes guest speakers, service at area organizations, retreats, and leadership skill work.
- Personal Care Drive: The entire school supported several local service agencies with a personal care drive called Power-in-the-House. From October 26 to November 20, students collected personal care items for the Episcopal Retirement Communities, Shelterhouse, Bethany House, and Women of Alabaster.