We are living in extraordinary times; schools are closed, events are cancelled and the ‘what if’ scenarios are scary and worrisome. The one thing that has remained constant throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is that my fellow educators are doing a number of amazing deeds.

In a matter of days, educators across Malta and Gozo have experienced drastic adjustments and were asked to step out of their comfort zones to continue assisting students with their learning. They redesigned their teaching methods to maintain a sense of normality for their students while also meaningfully engaging them in a completely digital environment and giving them the best learning experience possible in the current circumstances.

On May 15, the Lasallian community celebrated the feast of St John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and patron saint of educators.

John Baptist de La Salle was brave in the face of challenges, dedicated to the mission, consistent in his message, respectful to all regardless of conflict and,finally, faithful to God and to the path he had been put on.

All these characteristics inspire and encourage my fellow Lasallian educators to invest more time in the Lasallian community, meeting the individual needs of the students and providing a strong education to students from all backgrounds.

The Lasallian community also invests in the educators. For the fourth consecutive year, the animation team of the Junior Section at De La Salle College prepared a number of activities for all educators as part of Teacher’s Appreciation Week, which celebrates and acknowledges the efforts of all the teachers in our lives. These activities are held during the week when all Lasallians unite to celebrate the Founder’s Day feast as they are both related to the celebration of educators.

As stated by John Baptist de La Salle: “To touch the hearts of your students is the greatest miracle you can perform” and so, during this week, we thank all of our dedicated educators following on the footsteps and the mission of John Baptist de La Salle.

We as Lasallians have a special connection/bond as educators, acknowledging all senior leadership team members, Catholic brothers, teachers and learning support educators in every classroom.

However, we also thank and value the other educators in our lives: our parents, close relatives, coaches, community leaders, catechists and anyone else who acts as a guiding presence for us.

Teachers’ appreciation week at de La Salle College

Rossana Rizzo playing bingo during one of the week’s activities.Rossana Rizzo playing bingo during one of the week’s activities.

A number of educators have shared their thoughts and experiences after they took part in the activities organised for this year’s Teachers’ Appreciation Week:

Rossana Rizzo, teacher: “In May, the world celebrates Teachers’ Appreciation Week. At De La Salle College, we pride ourselves to be educators and help our students not only to learn academically, but also to grow and become good citizens of our country. We believe any nation’s future development is in the hands of teachers.

“At De La Salle College, teachers feel very much appreciated. Every year, the animation team within the Junior School Section makes this week rather special. This year, we got a little creative about how we could cele­brate this week virtually at a respectable social distance.

“We decided to get together on social media and play bin­go. We laughed, chatted over coffee, and most of all, showed one another how much we love, respect, and appreciate each other.” 

Caroline Grech Mallia, teacher and animator: “As part of Teachers’ Apprecia­tion week, educators had to prepare short clips from home. A good number of educators participated in this year’s De La Salle Educator’s Online Talent Show. These clips varied from creating a monologue with the mirror to singing, acting and dancing. This activity revealed  every- one’s secret gift and the quality of talent on display left the audience amazed.

“It’s obviously a strange time for everyone, and while planning for online teaching can be stressful and we’re all struggling to focus sometimes, these activities helped us stay connec­ted and to keep our morale up.

“A big thank you goes to all the animation team, especially Ms Sarah, Ms Christine and Ms Nastassia for working around the logistics and compiling the final 30-minute version of the show.

“This online talent show was legendary; we were able to laugh, but also be emotional. I believe no one is going to forget this great debut, mostly because everyone filmed the performances while  making great memories.”

Daniela Borg, LSE: “Among the different fun and spiritual activities, we had a quarantine quiz. It was challenging to say the least, with 20 questions about different topics and genres. It also included ambiguous questions on our founder, St John Baptist de La Salle.

“We were divided into different groups according to our year of teaching, subjects, etc, and since we only had one minute to give an answer, group work was a must. I thank the animation team of our college, who organised this superb, mind-boggling two-hour quiz. Thank you also for keeping the Lasallian spirit among us through these exceptional times.”

Christine Scerri, LSE and animator: “I loved taking part in the prayer meeting. It made me feel that  as an educator I truly mattered and can make a difference to the students I en­counter each year. It made me reflect that sometimes I am their source of comfort and the one who brings a smile on their face when they feel burdened with worries. Thus, it is a big responsibility to be entrusted with these children. It was also comforting for me because we prayed together as educators, bringing us closer as a community.”

Roberta Azzopardi, teacher and animator: “On the last day of Teacher’s Appreciation Week and  our Foun­der’s Day, the children thanked their teachers and LSEs with a beautiful e-memento featuring an emotional quote. This brought to an end an amazing Teachers’ Appreciation Week, which this year was celebrated in a different way.”

Lorraine Pace, teacher: “Something that really struck me as an educator was a pleasant booklet which the Senior Leadership Team members prepared for us all. Reading through all the writings and the poems made me realise how important our school is to us.

“Our school is not just our place of work. It is much more than that. It has become our second home, that special place we all belong to. We are grateful in the sense that we feel encouraged to carry out our Lasallian mission, since we know our work is appreciated.

“And to quote our founder: ‘You can perform miracles by touching hearts of those entrusted in your care’. Our heartfelt thanks, because this time, you touched our hearts.”

Sarah Mallia is a teacher and animator at De La Salle College.

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