The past year has been quite different to say the least. We have all taken to technology and the internet in ways we never have would have imagined before. Offices closed, work remote became the norm, businesses shut their doors, and people stayed home. But that is not to say that the work did not continue. Mary Ward Center in Chicago is a shining example of that.
Mary Ward Center was no exception to the pandemic altering their daily work life. With the shutdowns and shelter in place orders established, the staff knew that in order to continue flourishing and providing the necessary tools for the students of their community to continue learning, they would have to embrace some new methods. Enter Google Classroom and the joys of online teaching!
Beginning over the summer, director of MWC, Marianne Solorio, began looking for ways to teach not only the students, but the staff as well to use online teaching platforms. Google proved to be the most user-friendly option (and free!) so the decision was made to start there. Carrie Goodale from the IBVM offices in Wheaton, began teaching the staff how to use the Google platforms for remote learning. After everyone was established with a Gmail account, the learning began! The staff took to the new methods like fish to water. Beginning slowly with how to use Google Meet for one-on-one learning sessions, they went on to be efficient at screen sharing, YouTube video clips, Google Slide shows, changing their backgrounds, and so much more. They also become more comfortable and able to share documents and lesson plans with each other thanks to the ease and convenience of the internet and computer programs on Google. With technology, the staff was able to continue teaching to their students despite the doors of the center being physically closed.
JPIC also granted Mary Ward Center with a $1000 grant to purchase cleaning supplies. As in person sessions could begin slowly, the cleaning supplies proved absolutely necessary to keeping the center sanitized and safe for all.
MWC is still not quite up to full capacity with students, but many are back now on a rotating schedule to keep students and staff safe. Some students are still not quite comfortable with in person sessions, so some remote learning continues. This is such a nice advantage as it can help keep students up to date even after the pandemic. Online learning, working, etc. is proving to be here to stay and is a great utility for many. As Marianne said, “we closed our doors but opened our laptops.” The spirit and vitality of the Mary Ward Center is alive and well!