March 27, 2020

Dear Montserrat Community

The first week of online classes is behind us, and the engagement has been great, by most accounts. We know everything did not run totally smoothly, but it seems everyone did their best to put in a great effort and learn along the way. I thank you all for that!

The faculty and staff are ready to assist any students who need help in adjusting to the technology or other parts of the new online learning with which they may be having difficulty. 

Other help is available through Colleen.Michaels@montserrat.edu and Meagan.Grant@montserrat.edu. They are all here to help you.  Please reach out!  

Student Briel DiDonato put it beautifully today: “The positive thing that we are taking away from our classes is the ability to get to see each other’s faces. I and many others are happy to get the chance in our classes to have video calls where we can be in each others company as we are far apart. Teachers as well are feeling grateful that though we may not be in classes together we can still joke around and share some positives with each other during this crisis.

“For me, the best moment I’ve had so far in one of my courses is that our teacher started out our discussion allowing everyone to have the opportunity to vent, talk things out and express their hardships and concerns. This left us feeling fulfilled and more connected in ways we haven’t in the past. I fully appreciate how much care teachers are expressing to their students and it warms my heart to see students checking on their teachers as well. In some courses, we have even left some time in our discussion to show off students’ pets as they are at home. 

  “In my illustration 4 class we were having our discussions about how the class will run going forward our teacher Greg Orfanos was drinking his coffee and on that mug it said “Students Tears” though it’s a dark time it was nice to have some wholesome humor come out of it that we could all relate to and joke around about it.

“Though there is a lot of anxiety, fear, and pain in our world today, at Montserrat we have come together. It shows through our video in class calls that we are all supporting each other and giving out good vibes regardless of our situation. I wish we weren’t in the situation we are in but it makes me happy seeing everyone come together and make sure everyone is staying safe and healthy while focusing on our mental health as well.”

I have been on several calls this week with regional and federal officials advocating for help for our community. Today, the House passed a major stimulus bill which we will be paying close attention to as we find ways to get through this time. The state has also been looking for ways to help out non-profit organizations and higher education and we hope to find some assistance from Massachusetts as well. We will investigate all help and see what will best work for our community. 

The admissions team has been busy working remotely and implementing new ways to engage students through Zoom! This week, Admissions held it’s inaugural Virtual Tour alongside (remotely, of course) Blyth Hazen to talk with students about our Animation and Interactive Media program. A student from as far away as Texas joined in on the call and reconnected with her Admissions Counselor, Dan Rodriguez. Dan remembers visiting her school and was impressed with this accepted student’s artwork and was excited to reconnect with her through our Virtual Tour. A second tour was just as successful on Thursday afternoon with parents and students (two from Baltimore) chiming in with great questions. The admissions office will continue conducting tours of campus from home and will begin to introduce parents in on the calls with Financial Aid.  Jeffrey is also planning a Virtual Tour for international students on Tuesday through our partners at EAG.

Career Services Director Katherine Mitchell enjoyed sewing up a few masks while chatting with folks online. She’s excited to host every Thursday evening from 8-9 pm and has fun tutorials to share if anyone is interested! Next week’s session will be on April 2. (See attached photo.) In that vein, many in our community are showing support to their neighbors and we have benefitted from some of that support and have also been able to provide some. This week, we donated 40 N95 Particle Masks, 12 pairs of goggles and 400 Nitrile Gloves to the medical staff at Beverly Hospital, which is being stretched thin to find and purchase supplies.

Don’t forget that  Janet Dauray, Ph.D., Counseling Psychologist will be conducting appointments remotely and is available to help you.  Please reach out via email to schedule an appointment: janet.dauray@montserrat.edu.  

Please remember to continue to practice social distancing if you are out and about. If you have a place that you frequent, please pay attention to the business’ social media, etc., as they may post information to alert customers if someone in the business has tested positive for COVID-19. If you believe you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, please be sure to follow your local public health department’s guidance and let our school nurse, Sheryl Max know. sheryl.max@montserrat.edu

Enjoy the weekend and please find some time to relax and connect online or on the phone with your friends and family. We all need each other!  
President Kurt