Newsletter Spring 2020
May 19, 2020
Mater Christi Families Emerge as Local Heroes
Mater Christi families have been playing a role in the state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no surprise based on the school’s proximity to UVM that many of our parents are first responders at UVM Medical Center and other area medical facilities. We, as a community, are so grateful to them for their service.
Other Mater Christi parents have been doing their part. Dave Del Piero, parent of Abby in grade 2, made his first flight between Chicago and Shanghai on Easter on a Boeing 777 loaded with 2.9 million KN95 masks. Like other Mater Christi families who have stepped up for their communities, Del Piero is part of an incredible network of individuals and businesses who are creating solutions to overwhelming logistical issues associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, he is flying a private jet that typically carries wealthy passengers on their way to private charters operated by the luxury cruising company Crystal Cruises. The retrofitted planes now carry cargo only as they join other aerospace companies offering aircraft for medical supply cargo missions. Del Piero is about to finish a two-week series of trips between Shanghai and Chicago, flying the KN95 masks to be distributed across the U.S. “We’re very proud of him,” says wife Heather Ferrell.
Martti Matheson of JV Air, father of two Mater Christi students, transported more than 4,000 test samples from the UVM lab to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. “We put in 11 straight days, 22,000 miles,” Matheson said.”And we’re ready to stand by and do it again if needed.”
In addition, Burton, the snowboard company, worked with partners in China to 3D-print half a million N-95 masks for health care workers in Vermont. Mater Christi parents John Lacy and Malitta Westrick are CEO and Business Development Manager, respectively, of Burton. Kerry O’Brien, CEO, and Ed Biggins, CFO, of Commando, a woman’s lingerie company, pivoted to produce non-medical masks using Italian microfiber from their production operations in South Burlington.
Setting the Standard for Remote Learning
Mater Christi School was one of the first schools in Vermont to transition to remote learning; the school rolled out a complete remote learning platform on March 17. Internally, school faculty and administration had already been preparing for the possibility. Now in Week 9 of remote learning, Mater Christi has implemented a remote learning curriculum that will allow students to complete their coursework within the regular school calendar.
Head of School Tim Loescher led the development of a pedagogical approach tailored to each developmental and grade level. It was established collaboratively to ensure the best learning environment possible at each grade level. “This, we knew, would require a clear approach, a daily structure, a balance of flexibility and accountability, and ever-present attention to the whole child,” Loescher says.
At each grade level, Mater Christi faculty seek the “sweet spot” of instruction and learning in order to maintain an age-appropriate balance between online/screen-related activities, and off-line tasks, activities, and projects. The sweet spot seeks to maintain high expectations, an appropriate level of personal responsibility, and ongoing learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, along with interaction and classroom participation
Individual and small group meetings for academic and social support/needs are also part of the weekly regimen along with the arts, engineering, and physical activity/education. Enrichment and extension activities are provided for advanced learners; individualized and personal support from the Support Staff is also available. “Communication between administration and community, and between teachers, students, and parents/guardians, is critical and consistent,” Loescher adds.
Mater Christi School is proud to share that Mater Christi School alumnae have been honored as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the Class of 2020 of Rice Memorial High School. Madeline Sawyer is Valedictorian and a resident of Shelburne. In addition to her academic success, Madeline actively participates in extracurricular activities and devotes hours to community service. She is also an accomplished dancer and musician and was one of fourteen students selected to spend six weeks at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. Madeline is most proud of her initiative founding the Burlington Chamber Players, a string quartet that volunteers to play at senior living communities and rehabilitation centers.
Isabella (Izzy) Magg is Salutatorian and is also a resident of Shelburne. Izzy earned top honors in a class of exceptionally talented students while balancing a rigorous dance schedule as a life-long ballerina at Vermont Ballet Theatre. She won a place at the Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive in New York City. Izzy also finds time to regularly altar serve with her twin sister, Alessandra at the 8:30 am Mass at St. Catherine of Siena.
Over the years, many Mater Christi students have achieved this highest honor at Rice, although it has been a few years since Mater Christi alumni held both positions. Head of School Tim Loescher remembers this year’s honorees from their years at Mater Christi. “What a joy it was to have them in class at Mater Christi,” he said. “Their accomplishments at Rice come at no surprise. Congratulations to them both!”
Admissions is usually an interactive process, with candidates getting to know the school with tours and shadow days, and with the school getting to know the candidates and their parents with conversations and meetings. How do you do this when school is in remote learning? With remote admissions.
In the past few weeks, the admissions team has rolled out a remote admissions strategy with remote Open Houses on Zoom. Because parents of kindergarteners have different interests and concerns than parents of middle school students, the school hosted four different open houses by school division, with the collaboration and participation pf faculty members.
The school continues to show strength in enrollment and is on track to meet or exceed the enrollment goal for the fall. For academic year 2020-2021, prekindergarten is full with wait-list, preschool is filling up, and kindergarten is reaching capacity. Other grades continue to have balanced and consistent class sizes.
Barb Heath’s musicians continue to find a way to make joyful music together.
At Mater Christi School, our personnel costs, and many other costs, are fixed – whether we are physically on campus or not. In this unprecedented situation, we ask those who can help at this time to consider making a gift to the Annual Fund, as we know that many others who normally would make a gift, may not be in the position to do so now. As Mater Christi always has, it perseveres, with gratitude for the love and support of the community. If you have already made a gift this year, thank you. If you have not yet made a gift, please consider doing so by June 30. It has never been as crucial as it is now.
Along with our fixed costs, we have sustained the employment of staff who cannot work during this time. These are the individuals in our operations and cleaning teams whom we trust to keep our children safe. We will also incur costs as we plan for ways to maintain and improve health and safety as we look forward to the fall. As such, there is not the kind of cost savings that one might imagine from having the campus closed.
A key to our strength our current financial stability, which we have achieved through the past few years of planning and leadership, and from the support of a generous community. Our ability to deliver our program in the midst of the current crisis requires further flexibility — which is why the Annual Fund is a top priority of the school right now. Supporting faculty and students in online learning, protecting our workforce, and ensuring that our campus runs safely and smoothly are dependent on reliable and flexible funding. If you can, please consider a gift to Mater Christi School.