March 20, 2020
Dear NDAE Families,
It’s been quite a week. One that has turned our well-planned world around in an unnerving way, and at the same time, has brought out the best of NDA in innovative and compassionate ways.
In the midst of so much change and fast-paced action, I want to pause and take a moment to connect with you -- one of the most important members of our community -- to remind you that Notre Dame Academy and the legacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame are stronger than ever.
Throughout their history, the Sisters of Notre Dame have responded to the needs of the time to offer a transformative education to children around the world. That is what they did when they traveled to California by train to build NDA.
“Responding to the needs of our time” couldn’t be more relevant today.
While the events of the past few weeks have certainly challenged the limits of our flexibility, patience, and perseverance, we are confident that we are prepared to continue to educate our children in the spirit of NDA whether that is from a traditional looking classroom in a beautiful brick building, or from their homes with modern-day tools that create a virtual classroom experience.
In some ways, these challenges offer an opportunity to further demonstrate our team’s innovation and creativity.
Thanks to the generous support of NDA families and friends throughout the years, the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff, and a strong partnership with parents that have developed a common language and strategies tied to mission and goals, we are uniquely positioned, not only to weather this current storm but also to respond to the ever-changing needs of the student of the future.
Our work promoting a growth mindset, habits of mind, technology skills, a strong academic foundation, and skills to prepare students for an unknown future has been instrumental in redefining and setting a new standard in Catholic education for the 21s t Century.
Thanks to the training and work that NDA educators have engaged in, our faculty and staff have been hard at work this week launching our remote learning program to maintain exemplary instruction for the duration of this unprecedented period in education. In less than a week, they have pivoted to develop and deliver virtual lessons and engaging instructional experiences to 292 TK-8th grade students in a variety of subject areas and enrichment programs.
More importantly, however, we recognize that academic skills don’t supersede empathy and compassion at this moment. Last week the mayor and governor of California asked us all to implement social distance practices as an act of love for the people of our city and state. As I watched leaders dealing with the challenges of convincing citizens to follow this important request, I was grateful that “empathy is our superpower” at NDA. While staying at home for an extended period of time is not easy for young children or teenagers, I am comforted that we will meet this challenge because our students have been taught to look beyond themselves and consider the needs of others. What a wonderful gift of selflessness to offer in this Lenten season. And what a unique challenge to think innovatively and connect in new ways.
Our first concern is the health, safety and emotional well being of our NDA Community.
As adults, we have the benefit of a long-term perspective and can more readily contextualize our current challenges. It’s essential that we also provide a positive and steady influence to help our children navigate this unsettling time.
Our Catholic faith reminds us that we are not alone in times of trial. And the Sisters of Notre Dame have instilled in each of us a profound understanding of and appreciation for God’s good and provident care. That grace -- that charism -- is what binds us as a community united in support of our students academically, socially, and spiritually.
Plans are in the works for more ways to virtually connect as a community in the days ahead. As we look to the future our connectedness is what creates and will sustain our community. The needs of NDA are more relevant than ever and we look forward to a continued partnership to meet those needs as a community.
I am grateful to every member of our NDA family -- faculty, staff, parents, alumnae, and friends. Together we have propelled Notre Dame Academy and extended the legacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame. I will remember each of you in my prayers for the continued health and safety of our community, and I hope you will do the same.
As we end every prayer, Saint Julie Billiart, pray for us.
Ms. Lilliam Paetzold '80
President, NDA Schools of Los Angeles