Mrs. Kimberly Peicker
Bishop Guertin High School
Nashua, New Hampshire
Mrs. Kimberly Peicker, Parent of a Senior and Sophomore
Strategy, Communication, Leadership, Crisis Management, and Social Responsibility.
These are key terms I reference frequently as an adjunct business professor teaching both face-to-face and online courses at colleges and universities throughout New England.
When Covid-19 evolved in early 2020, I had the opportunity as both an educator, and a mother to two high school students, to witness firsthand an outstanding example of strategic thinking, crisis management, leadership, and social responsibility at my son’s high school. In a world thrust into uncertainty, Bishop Guertin High School offered my children the opportunity to continue their quality education and maintain a sense of normalcy while globally our collective day-to-day lives were completely unpredictable.
Bishop Guertin High School (BG), is a Catholic, co-educational, college preparatory high school located in Nashua New Hampshire. BG’s population of 800 students yield from approximately 40 communities in Southern New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts. Bishop Guertin’s mission statement includes, in part,
“…we develop a school community which includes students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Together we foster an environment of respect, compassion, and trust in which young people can grow and develop. The formation of the spiritual, intellectual, creative, emotional, social, and physical dimensions of each person is made possible within a safe, supportive, faith-filled environment in which each person is known, valued, and treasured.
We accept the challenge of educating young people in a diverse and rapidly changing world. Through a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and an extensive extracurricular program, we promote lifelong learning that is not only about success for today, but also about formation for tomorrow…” (BGHS.org, 2020)
Bishop Guertin’s proactive Covid-19 response provides a fascinating business case study in organizational success. BG’s leaders were cognizant of external global factors that might impact their ability to meet their mission. They developed a comprehensive crisis management strategy well before Covid-19 was a mainstream news story. Their plan was created using a combination of science, pedagogy, management and community awareness, with a constant focus on how the pending changes would align with their mission.
In a global mass-media environment where fear and panic reigned, Bishop Guertin effectively converted from a brick-and-mortar school to complete online instruction in only 72 hours. The exceptional educators and staff championed a nearly seamless transition that provided students with daily, live, online interactive classes using videoconferencing tools that promoted normalcy, provided routine and successfully achieved academic progress of their rigorous curriculum.
The academic success of BG’s Covid-19 education model is founded in strong pedagogy, technological planning, flexibility and intentional, concise communication. The administration’s goal to provide in-person content when safe, and yet maintain the technological ability to seamlessly shift to a remote interactive model at any point, is integral to their success. Well thought-out safety measures such as required masks, one-way traffic in hallways, improved ventilation, contact tracing protocols and outdoor spaces prolong face-to-face learning. Video-conferencing tools, dedicated educators and a commitment to meet all learning objectives ensure the integrity of the learning experience, no matter the content delivery system. Recent research in instructional presence and its effects on the learning experience support BG’s model. *(Park & Kim, 2020).
In addition to academics, BG was mindful of their mission goal to develop the ‘whole person’ and ensure every student felt ‘known, valued and treasured’. To that end, BG offered daily advisory to oversee student wellness, developed creative online formation days, and reimagined virtual school spirit events, including a drive-in-movie style graduation complete with fireworks that allowed students and teachers to stay connected and foster community spirit.
By living their mission, Bishop Guertin modeled for their students how to overcome adversity by promoting “lifelong learning that is not only about success for today, but also about formation for tomorrow”.
*Park, C., & Kim, D. (2020). Perception of Instructor Presence and Its Effects on Learning Experience in Online Classes. Journal Of Information Technology Education: Research, 19, 475-488. doi: 10.28945/4611
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