“The saint john’s Prep Community has proven to be strong & resilient.”
Our Student Leaders Shine in Transition
When our school transitioned to e-learning, I was considering how we would be different from any other online school. I quickly realized that the closeness of our community, a core feature of Saint John’s Prep, would also be our strongest asset in online learning. I was optimistic as I completed my Master’s degree online, and it was a resounding success because the community that my classmates and professors developed. We cared about each other’s success, and we grew close over the two years that we worked together. When we finally met in person at graduation, it felt as though we had known each other for years.
I’ve had the opportunity to support the Prep community through my role as the Student Council advisor. In that role, get to support the success of students and give them an channel to voice their opinions. Before we moved to e-learning, I was impressed with how seriously the student representatives took their responsibility to lead their peers and create unique experiences. Now that we are e-learning, I’m astounded by them. It would have been easy to simply walk away from the responsibility of representing their peers, but instead, the students that I have the pleasure of working with have embraced the challenge of leadership.
After our first week of e-learning, I met with the Student Council and asked them how their experience had been so far, focusing on three main questions. First, I asked them what was going well. Second, I asked them where they needed help and support. Finally, I asked them how they were feeling. Their responses were genuine, articulate, and constructive. I gathered their feedback and presented it to faculty, and it helped shape the educational decisions we made during the transition. The response from faculty was overwhelmingly positive as well, a true testament to the care that they show for our students and the partnership in learning that our students and teachers share.
After the first week, the strength of our community really started to show. My representatives expressed how much they missed their friends and teachers and how important our live Zoom sessions were for keeping our sense of community. Furthermore, they suggested that we start organizing after-school events. I invited both students and teachers to participate and take on leadership roles, and we have had opportunities for community almost every day after school. Our chess and e-sports groups have been active, and we have had language learning activities, cooking lessons, drawing parties, and book clubs. Even though our community is separated by the social distancing restrictions that are in place, there is joy in seeing each other, not only for school, but also for fun afterward.
This year could have ended sadly. We cancelled Spring Formal, postponed the spring musical, and have lost some of the daily contact that students and faculty alike miss so much. The Prep community, however, has proven to be strong and resilient, unwilling to let a global pandemic keep them from the relationships they have developed over time. While we won’t see each other in person for some time, our community continues to thrive.
Matt Beck is originally from Buckman, MN. He teaches German at Saint John’s Preparatory School. Matt earned his B.A. in English and German from Saint John’s University and M.A. In Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University. He has taught English at the Hauptschule Insel Schütt and Willstätter Gymnasium in Nürnberg, Germany as well as the Jilin Institute of Chemical Technology in Jilin City, China. He also spent three years working in Residential Life at Saint John’s Prep.
In 2016, Herr Beck was named Minnesota German Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German. Herr Beck appreciates the students at Saint John’s Prep because they are dedicated to academics, yet they stretch themselves in multiple different directions. It’s not uncommon for one student to spend his or her week doing homework, competing in sports, and preparing for a concert or musical while managing to succeed in everything.
In his spare time, he enjoys running, skiing, working with technology, and traveling. What excites Matt about Saint John’s Prep is the diversity of the students, the dedication of the staff and faculty, and the warm, cooperative learning environment.
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