2020 has to be one of the most memorable years in history thus far. We lived through a global pandemic, navigated through life with grace and resilience, and overcame the most strenuous of circumstances all while being confined to the four walls within a home, limiting contact with other humans and the outside world. The past two consecutive school years have proved how students and teachers can collaborate and work together in beautiful and unique ways that take education to a whole new level. There is no doubt that what we went through is an accurate representation of perseverance and dedication. The community of Notre Dame continues to grow in determination and confidence and with that, so does the number of people within the NDA community.
As the doors to our beloved campus opened for all of its students to return on September 8th, there has been nothing but joy as the halls radiate with students and teachers, excited to get back to a traditional school year after all the changes we’ve had to adapt to in the past 20 months. This September, our community has expanded to welcome two new teachers to the staff of Notre Dame. Ms. Meagan Naso ‘15 had joined the English Department as a substitute teacher and Ms. Guadalupe Delgado has joined the Theology Department, and I sat down with them to ask them what their experiences teaching at Notre Dame have been like and what they find most memorable about returning to teaching full classrooms.
Ms. Naso had said, “Being able to teach in-person has been a wonderful experience. I really enjoy seeing my student's faces every day because it really allows me to see what they are understanding or not understanding. Seeing this allows me to better adjust my teaching style to ensure my students really learn.”
Ms. Naso’s perspective and enlightenment over an incredible return to campus and being able to achieve an authentic sense of emotional understanding in the classroom is a true testament to the comfort and security that being in school gives both administrators and students. Being immersed in schoolwork and seeing those familiar classrooms every day motivates us to excel in our academic endeavors and put our best foot forward each and every time we walk into a class. Ms. Naso also provided an excellent view on teaching for educators, and that is elaborating on a topic or taking time to explain it to address any doubts you may sense that students may encounter. Learning is a skill of value and focus, and those principles lay on a foundation of thorough interpretation and comprehension. With having every student active in learning and participation, teachers are awarded the opportunity to experiment with new learning strategies and techniques to test out what is effective and most efficient. Ms. Naso’s unique interpretation of the numerous benefits of in-person learning improves the understanding of students and helps them attain skills that they will carry both in and out of the classroom. Ms. Naso has since left the classroom temporarily as Ms. Pieragowski has returned from her maternity leave. You can see Ms. Naso occasionally in the halls of the elementary school and high school where she will take on the role of being a substitute teacher!
Ms. Delgado likewise had a positive stance on in-person learning, and the ecstatic energy it has fostered in the halls of NDA. Ms. Delgado described the energy of NDA since school has started as “the aura of being studious and importance of grades is present. It is the thirst for knowledge the students have that makes teaching fun. I am very happy and look forward to the rest of the school year.”
Similarly, Ms. Delgado added, “Being back in the classroom has brought back the student’s confidence to partake in a discussion without fear of interrupting her classmate. It is through these class discussions that I have gotten to know and build connections with the students I teach.”
These changes in the way that students learn have allowed them to use their voices with conviction and courage. Having present in-person discussions puts students in the headspace that we should not be scared to use our voice, and we are ready to learn and expand our knowledge about the world around us, our faith, and our communities. The traditional connection between a teacher and a student and the bond they share is strengthened through physical presence and togetherness, which establishes a classroom with the power to do the unimaginable.
Ms. Delgado continued, “While being here almost three months two things have stood out to me. The characteristics of an NDA student and the sense of community in the school.”
I can attest that those two principles are a large component of the profile of an NDA graduate and what the ultimate achievement of a Notre Dame student is, with the guidance of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congregation of Notre Dame. The NDA community is one of constant growth, love, and strength. As Ms. Delgado puts it, “Coming back from the pandemic and being in a social environment is not always easy. However, the students have made it seem easy.”
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Naso and Ms. Delgado for their ever-growing support and appreciation for NDA and welcome them to the community of our wonderful and remarkable educators and administrators!