Never would we have imagined in May that we’d be returning to our home on N. Broom Street in August. But after months of careful preparation by the faculty and staff of Padua Academy, the school year is set to begin using our Blended Learning Model on September 8th.
What is Blended Learning?
Padua’s Blended Learning Model is one where synchronous and asynchronous learning are blended through an elaborate schedule of in-person and virtual classes, assignments, collaboration and projects. With classroom capacity limited, this safely gives faculty and students the opportunity for much needed classroom instruction. It builds upon everything we learned during the Spring of 2020, when we delivered all curriculum virtually without missing one day of instruction.
Panda Hugs may have been absent this week, but we could still see our favorite smiles hiding behind those masks during the first week of socially distanced welcome events at Padua.
During a typical school year, Padua Freshmen would have participated in a day off-campus for retreat and community building before coming to the building for a full day of orientation. However, 2020 has meant our freshmen started this new chapter in their lives in a unique way -- right here on Broom Street, in the building they will come to cherish.
We welcomed the Class of 2024 through the doors for the first time as Padua students on Tuesday, August 25. They participated in Freshman Retreat: a day of activities including getting to know each other, discovering more about themselves with God and taking the next step in their lives without fear.
The theme of the retreat, “Be...,” connects to a well-known saying of St. Francis de Sales: “Be who you are and be that well in order to bring honor to the Master Craftsman whose handiwork you are.” This year, the theme of the retreat also connected to our students’ summer reading, Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson. The book is the story of Jade, an young African American woman who realizes she doesn’t have to “be” anyone but herself, a challenging proposition for this high schooler because of her unique set of circumstances. Her internal and external struggles manifest themselves in creating beautiful art collages.
Our Freshmen took the first steps in exploring their own faith journey by creating new community, in personal reflection and by listening to senior members of Padua’s Peer Leadership Team share their witness. The peer leaders shared their experiences of God, whether in the times they came to know themselves better, or in confronting fears and challenges. As students spent the day in small groups, it was a different but beautiful moment during this unique period in our school’s history, and we are certain the bonds that began to form on this August day will continue to grow over the next four years.
Peer leaders guided the Class of 2024 on a building tour to learn more about Padua Traditions, and to become better familiarized with the new ways in which we will navigate hallway and classroom spaces this school year. As the freshmen heard on the building tour, our founders established Padua to respond to a need. This year, we will adapt to new needs like social distancing and hybrid learning. Yet our institution will continue to follow the same call our freshmen heard at retreat: to be who we are, and to be that well.