In March 2020, schools unexpectedly closed all their doors to their students. Our Antioch School Manila community was excitedly preparing for end-of-school-year rites. We were finalizing Kinder and Elementary Graduations and Preschool Moving Up. At the same time, we were putting together our yearbook, preparing for final exams and projects, getting ready for our family missions to Naga City and Vietnam and so many other activities that we were looking forward to. But in a blink of an eye, everything changed. What we planned and expected was not going to happen. All our preparations for naught.
But our school community chose to do what we could with what we had. For the next two months, we transitioned to online learning to complete end-of-year lessons and requirements. Teachers and families worked closely together and in the end, finished the year feeling satisfied that we fulfilled our objectives despite very challenging circumstances. We extended our services during the summer by checking in on our students and introducing our Family Challenge activity on social media to stay connected during the period of uncertainty.
The whole world found itself in a global crisis; our school watched and waited for government direction, but we already began planning for a fully remote learning environment for the safety of our students, families, and staff. We made sure that we were equipped with hardware and internet capabilities. We had committed and competent teachers. And we looked to our families who would continue to trust that we would be ready and able to provide our students with the same quality education we have always had.
By May 2020, our curriculum framework was complete, our remote learning structure was in place and these were presented to our families. By June, intensive teacher training began to ensure that our teaching community possessed the digital know-how, as well as to be able to teach with the same progressive philosophy we believed in. By July, we had a series of parent orientations and small group consultations, while lessons and teaching units were being prepared. By August, we started the new academic year with class endorsements, student orientations, and more small group consultations before diving into lessons.
We ventured into the unknown and we had to rethink and reinvent our landscape of education. However, we guaranteed our stakeholders that we would remain committed to our philosophy, values, beliefs, and pursuit of excellence.
Now, March 2021, we are once again nearing the end of another academic year and as we look back on our first year of our Online Distance Learning Program, we believe that we have been able to remain true to our promise. And we would like to thank our families, students, teachers, and staff who have made all these possible. Here are only some of what we’ve seen and done the past few months:
Our online set-up has also given birth to unexpected programs such as:
While we look back at all these successes, it is not without considering the many difficulties we have encountered as a school, as well as within the lives of our families, teachers, and staff — experiences of great losses, intense fears, disappointments, and many more. But we have remained strong in faith and will. We believe that we have truly witnessed that #WeAreOneCommunity. We are overwhelmed with the support and appreciation of families and students. And so we, as a school, as a community, as one family remain committed to providing an even better education as we look forward to another school year.
Given a choice, we would all want to go back to our brick-and-mortar school. Until it is safe for everyone, Antioch School Manila with our Online Distance Learning Program will continue to be a Christ-centered community, committed to providing quality education that is learner-centered, innovative, challenging, and relevant.
Maria Cecilia Bautista, MA