Bendiciones del Obispo y Otras Cosas

My coverage of the opening of the school year continues with photos from Bishop Quezada’s blessing of the students, teachers, parents and administrators who will make this year so successful (I have high hopes!). The Bishop’s blessing service is now in its 4th year and is another example of the transformation of Diocesan education from a loose collection of colegios to a true school system with an active Board and a Director of Education.

Here are photos of the September 29th event. Such a wonderful day!

Whether in person or via Zoom, every Colegio could receive the Bishop’s Blessings.
Bishop Moises addresses the school community of Colegio Encarnacion.
From Left to Right, La Presidenta of the Junta de Education, La Directora de Education, Bishop Moises Quezada and Anunciacion’s Directora pose after the service.

One last thing to report. I’ve continued to receive photos of children being welcomed by their new teachers and school staff members. I love these photos and want to share them with you.

With students registered and the school year blessed by the Bishop, Colegio San Andres can announce that the school is “All Aboard for Learning”!

One last educational happening to report from the Dominican Republic. The Diocesan seminary, Centro de Educacion Teologico, recently graduated three students. I know them well and believe all will make awesome priests once their practicum experiences are complete. Congratulations to all and to the Diocese that they will serve spectacularly well.

Opening Day Welcomes

Tradition at Colegio San Andres calls for each and every new student to receive an individual welcome. Parents accompany their children if at all possible. Everyone coming to learn is a special guest at this school.

New students pose for “portraits” advising them that the new school year begins at Colegio Episcopal San Andres and that they are returning to a happy place.
Every school day at San Andres begins with students assembled on the playground for prayers and the singing of the Dominican national anthem.

Escuelas Episcopales abiertas en la República Dominicana

Whatever the language, our headline today is an exciting one. I’ve received an electronic “shipment” of opening day photos from Colegio San Andres on the east side of Santo Domingo.

The school provides excellent programs for a student body diverse in terms of socio-economic background, drawn from neighborhoods across the city. The school wins awards for academic achievement regularly. Take a long look at the enthusiasm on the faces of students and teachers; it shines through the mandated masks. It made my day and I think it just might make yours.

A teacher begins a first lesson with her primary students and welcomes them to San Andres.
Principal Miguelina Corporan reviews the Welcome message with arriving students.
Principal Corporan leaps into a celebration of coming back to school.
The announcement of the Bishop’s blessing of the 2021-2022 academic year.

The Graduations Keep Coming

A short post to recognize an eighth group of graduates from the Dominican Episcopal schools that offer a secondary program. This time from Colegio San Marcos. Once again, the photo shows smiling students excited to move on to future studies and their place in the adult world.

Colegio San Marcos is a well-established and very effective school serving the community of Haina, just to the west of Santo Domingo. I’ve visited the school many times and have been impressed by its leadership and teachers’ dedication to the students they teach. The photo tells the San Marcos story. !Felicitaciones a los graduados!

Padre Felix and the school principal and administrator pose with the class of 2021.

The Last Word on the 2020-2021 Academic Year

My years as an Episcopal lay person have taught me that certain individuals deserve having the last word. Dominican Bishop, Rvdmo Moises Quezada Mota, certainly ranks among those people. Here is his message to the recent graduates, with English translation.

My heartfelt thanks to a man that I respect and am honored to consider a friend. A man I call “The Education Bishop” for his support for education in the Dominican Diocese.

Gracias Obispo, muchísimas gracias.

Successful Conclusions 2

In my first end-of-the-academic-year posting, I wrote about the ways in which our Dominican teacher colleagues overcame many challenges to offer students a quality education via the Internet. This achievement cannot be over-emphasized, I do believe.

Nothing documents this success like happy young faces posing for their HS graduation photos. Of the 26 Diocesan schools, 8 offer programs from early childhood through Grade 12. Here are photos from seven of those colegios that make me smile every time I see them. Proof positive that good things happened this year in the Dominican Episcopal schools.

23 future citizens of the Dominican Republic recently graduated from Colegio Anunciacion, Santiago.
Graduates and their teachers celebrate completion of studies at Colegio Todos Los Santos, La Romana.
Smiling faces on graduation day at Colegio San Jose, Boca Chica.
The priest and a lay person lead seniors in prayer at Colegio San Andres, Santo Domingo.
La Romana’s second HS, Colegio Encarnación, commemorates a “job well done” for its graduates.
La Rectora, Madre Milquella, stands amidst graduates of Colegio San Esteban, San Pedro de Macoris.
Raise your hand and smile if you remember tossing your cap in the air at your HS graduation; I did at mine, giving me kinship with these young people at Colegio Santa Cruz, Santa Fe.

Felicitaciones a estos graduados dominicanos!!! Congratulations to these Dominican Graduates!!!

A Year of Challenges Comes to a Successful Conclusion

The Ano Escolar (academic year) came to a close this past week. Challenges abounded for my colleagues in the Dominican Episcopal School System. Yet, their skill, creativity and initiative in meeting these difficult situations never failed to impress.

Proof of their success comes in these photos and videos, shared by the leadership team at Colegio San Andres in Santo Domingo.

The Rector, principal, business manager and a staff member meet to reflect upon the past year.

Students shared their final projects, demonstrating that dedicated teachers and hard-working students can produce excellent work even via distance.

Students present their work for their parents.

Elementary teachers prepared a video that captured a successful school year.

Yes, a memorable school year. A phenomenal school year, considering the circumstances. San Andres Principal Miguelina Corporan has already begun planning for an equally successful 2021-2022

La Misa de Acción de Gracias

One week ago today the Education Mission Team participated in a thanksgiving eucharist for the successful conclusion of a most challenging school year. Despite Covid 19 pandemic and resulting economic hardship, the Episcopal school system provided a quality education via distance to many children. On June 28th, Bishop Moises Quesada celebrated mass as we participated via Zoom. The Diocesan community joined us through a FaceBook simulcast. Ain’t technology a wonderful thing . . . at times.

Bishop Moises invited our “Team Chaplain”, Mother Amanda Gott (St. Matthew’s Church, Lincoln, NE) to preach that day. Her theme, “Mustard Seeds and Mountains:  A Teeny-Tiny Virus v/s a Teeny-Tiny Bit of Faith”, offered guidance for reflection on a difficult year that was well-received by those present. A job well-done, Mother Amanda!

These photos capture the events of last Monday morning.

An advance announcement of the Holy Eucharist of Thanksgiving broadcast across the Diocese.
The service opened with a hymn beautifully sung by a teacher at Colegio San Andres.
Mother Amanda preaches on the power of faith as Zoom participants post on the chat board.
Teachers (notice their masks) gather to experience the service.
Teachers, students and parents gather in the church to watch the service.
Following the mass, Bishop Moises chats with Education Team members, a meeting so ably facilitated by our stellar translator, Michelle Guzman (shown on his phone).

Our next Zoom event occurs on July 14th and will involve student presentations of research projects with feedback from the Mission Team. Stay tuned for the blog that will follow.

Gracias y Bendiciones+

New Projects in the Works

After the Dominican government’s decision to allow students back into classrooms (effective June 1, 2021)), Bishop Moises Quezada adopted a more cautious approach, continuing virtual teaching/learning this summer with Episcopal colegios opening fully in the fall. The summer program will feature innovative projects that promote students’ technology, research and English language skills. Our Education Mission Team will play a major role in the development and assessment of these projects.

Teachers at roughly a dozen Episcopal schools will guide student teams as they discover more about their neighbor to the north, the United States. The series of projects, titled: Una Nacion, Grandes Estados, Estados Unidos de America (One Nation, Large States, the United States of America), culminates in a celebration of learning in mid-July. Project teams will share their “findings” in presentations that include written reports, music, artistic creations and drama. Not only will students gain knowledge about a country that influences their lives, they will enhance abilities to speak/write English, utilize technology for research and have a good time in the process.

A visual representation of the summer learning projects giving a sense of states to be examined and grade levels doing the investigating..

The summer initiative kicked-off this past week with a Zoomed planning session in which curriculum developers shared their vision for the program and responded to questions from Education Mission Team members as well as from administrators and Rectores responsible for participating schools. The meeting lasted several hours as the program design was polished and made ready to go.

Virtual meetings can follow established routines, like opening with a beautiful rendition of a well-known hymn by a marvelous singer.
Participants salute each other with a heart symbolizing caring and joy at meeting once again.
Our conversations produced a blueprint for the summer’s activities, complete with competencies for students to meet in their presentations.

Education Mission Team members stand ready to field questions and make comments for their Dominican teacher colleagues throughout the planning and preparation process. We will serve as judges at presentation time, identifying student teams whose excellent performance merits recognition.

Stay tuned for progress reports as the summer progresses! Bendiciones+

Face-to-Face Learning

Episcopal colegios in the Dominican Republic opened for a second time this school year. MINERD mandated that schools could begin in-person teaching on June 1st. The Dominican school system determined that putting children in classrooms for only a few weeks would be disruptive; face-to-face education will begin as the 2021-2022 academic year begins in August. As the Dominican Episcopal schools edge toward “business as usual”, virtual classrooms will continue for several more weeks.

While teaching/learning remains a Zoom-aided process, colegios maintain long-held traditions, including celebrations of parental support and student achievement. As these photos illustrate, Colegio San Andres once again held its annual “Dia de las Madres”, applauding the women who make such a difference in the education of students across the grade levels.

Every mother with a child at San Andres received a gift reminding them that a mother leaves “footprints of love” at the school.
Faculty members dramatize the lives of mothers and fathers in Biblical times.

Postings to follow. The Dominican colegios have risen to so many challenges during this pandemic year. Once again, they move forward!