Principal reflects on eLearning, other issues

Mrs. Barthel notes that these are unprecedented times for all


Gracie Carr

Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel participated in a presser with the Megaphone staff earlier this semester.

Toby Bradshaw, Reporter

Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel returned to the Hill in January as the school’s principal. She reflects on her experiences during the spring semester, an experience that no doubt she, her fellow educators and students never expected.

Originally, what were your hopes for your first semester as principal?

I wanted to spend my first semester at Cathedral observing and gathering data on what was going well and where we could make improvements. I also wanted to spend that time building relationships.

Did you ever expect that this would be part of your experience as an administrator?

No. Absolutely not. You never really talk about anything like this in any of your (education) leadership classes. These are unprecedented times for all of us.

When did you begin planning for eLearning for a possible quarantine?

The (school) leadership team started gathering resources and meeting in preparation the week of March 2.

What did you believe were the highlights of the semester?

Watching the way the Cathedral educators and students handled a very fast transition to eLearning was amazing. I’m very proud of the way we continue to offer our holistic mission through eLearning. There are so many examples with daily prayer, prayer services, amazing lessons being delivered, county meetings and celebrations, Coffeehouse Jam and other opportunities to share talents, passions and much more.

What school event were you looking forward to that got canceled?

I love the Irish 500 and the school spirit that is represented. That day is such a fun and creative way to compete, and I also like how it coincides with the month of May in our great city of Indianapolis.

What were your specific challenges as the principal during this difficult time?

It was difficult to stay connected to every educator every day and make sure they were offering the best education to educate hearts and minds, as well as offering support and grace to them as we did not know what every family was going through in these uncertain times.

What are your plans for the summer personally and professionally?

Professionally my goal is to work with our safety task force to make sure and try and plan for every aspect of our school next year and how we can offer either face-to-face, blended or virtual learning at the highest quality in a safe learning environment. Personally, I hope to travel to Denver and New York City to see my sons.

What are your goals for the school for next year?

After this pandemic, my goals have changed. I hope to help Cathedral transition to a new normal with new expectations and safety guidelines and get back to the very high performing school that we are with amazing school spirit and awesome relationships between educators and students.

How have these goals changed since when you first became principal?

These goals have changed a great deal. This event will go down in history as transforming schools, businesses, daily interactions and more for all of us.

Do you have any concerns about how many students will return next year?

As I said I feel we have handled this transition to eLearning possibly better than any other school. I am very proud of our educators and the work that they put in to help personalize virtual learning for their students and stay connected. I am also proud of the other people who supported students throughout this such as counselors, coaches, trainers and administrators. We definitely showed our Holy Cross theme of family throughout this pandemic.

Do you have any concerns about students being less ready for the next year because of eLearning?

I am not concerned about students being ready, as we will use formative assessments when we get back to see where we need to fill in gaps if needed for our students.

How will Cathedral change moving into the new school year?

This is still a moving target and the Cathedral Safety Task Force is looking at state and national resources to help guide how we will reopen in the fall.

Will the innovation center’s construction be affected in any way by the virus?

The innovation center construction actually got moved up a bit due to the pandemic and students being off campus. We are very excited about this opportunity and the amazing educational learning spaces that will be in this new building.

Do you have anything else to add?

As I shared, I am very proud of our students and how they transitioned to eLearning, communicated with teachers and advocated for themselves so they could be the best that they could be during this time. A prime example of students stepping up and continuing to do a great job is the Megaphone staff. You all have done an amazing job continuing to produce such a high quality school newspaper.