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Editor’s Note: The Unsung Heroes

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During the course of the pandemic, we were forced to become more resourceful and creative, all while the world was turned upside down. Organizations across the globe had to figure out ways to keep going during the uncertainty and fear. Amid all the change and turmoil, our schools became, in short order, shining examples of deciphering and engineering effective plans for teachers and students.

Teachers, principals and parents pulled together to keep education moving forward, and students showed their resiliency through continued learning, despite limited social interactions with their classmates and wearing masks all day. It was an effort that took collaboration and determination from all involved.

There was, however, a group of people who mostly flew under the radar during this change and upheaval – men and women who kept everything running under the surface. They were the often-unsung heroes of our schools during the pandemic: the technology (IT) workers.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m married to a man who works as the sole IT professional for a Catholic church and school. During the pandemic ,my husband, Mark’s, job fell firmly into the “essential employee” category. While he has always been necessary to employees and students of the school and parish, in a matter of days, everyone’s education depended on access to tablets, computers and the internet. I watched my husband as he worked late into the evening helping teachers and students troubleshoot problems with programs and devices. I kept our children distracted as Mark installed live-streaming so everyone could still watch Mass from home during church closures. I cheered for him as he implemented single-point login for multiple softwares and apps that students and teachers needed to continue virtually with school.

And even this summer, as more and more people got vaccinated and teachers and students enjoyed their well-deserved vacation time, Mark went to work every day to format tablets and computers, install new firewalls and prepare the entire school for a new year of learning so when everyone walks through the school doors this month, it’s all ready to go.

And Mark is not the only one. IT staff for schools across the archdiocese have been diligently working, researching and listening to feedback from teachers, principals and families to make sure everyone can continue to learn and have an effective school year no matter what life throws at us. And these dedicated school workers do it not for the recognition, but because they desire to serve coworkers and students.

This issue of The Catholic Telegraph is dedicated to schools and technology. Our schools are where students are nurtured and taught by dedicated teachers and staff. And through it all, they are supported by technology – the technology that was a lifeline during the pandemic and will continue to be an essential tool for learning and growth.

As Pope Francis said in his 2017 TED Talk, “The future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us.’ We all need each other.”

This article appeared in the August 2021 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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