Q/A with the Principal

Mr. Tom Durkin answers questions from The Patriot Staff


Q: Other the concern for the safety of the students and staff, what is your biggest concern through this pandemic?
Mr. Durkin: Initially, there really is no bigger concern than the safety and health of our students, faculty, and staff. That’s why our building is closed, and everyone other than critical staff is working from home. All our decisions are driven by this. Secondly, we are working diligently with the faculty and students to make sure that learning continues.   Thirdly,  we are looking at events scheduled and how we may best reschedule them, if possible. 
Q: Do you feel students and teachers were well-prepared to move to online learning?
Mr. Durkin: I would prefer that the students and teachers answer this question. I am not sure we can ever be as well-prepared as we would like for an event like this and its impact to our normal school schedule. That being said, I am impressed with how well the faculty and students have transitioned to this new educational domain. I know there have been challenges, and some may feel overwhelmed, but we want both teachers and students to know that we are all here to help.

Q: What would you like to say to seniors who are nervous about the close to their senior year?

Mr. Durkin: My heart goes out to all our students, but especially our seniors. This is not how anyone wanted their spring semester to unfold. I read an open letter on Facebook from a teacher who lost his senior year to Hurricane Katrina. He captures much of what our seniors are probably feeling. I would encourage all to read it.  It really stinks that this year of athletics, performances, and championships are potentially lost. They have a right to be disappointed, angry, and frustrated. I also know that they will be stronger Patriots for what they have experienced. Their disappointment, anger, and frustration can be redirected to make our world a better and safer place. They will tell future generations that closing physical buildings does not have to deter their spiritual and academic growth. They are our hope for a better future. They’ve got this!
Q: How are you assisting teachers who aren’t as familiar with technology?
Mr. Durkin: One of our critical employees who is still in the building is from our IT office. This allows any teacher or student who has a tech issue to contact our IT Department for support. Mr. Hollin, Mrs. Attanasio, and I are constantly researching support that is available to our faculty, and some of our faculty are sharing ideas with everyone else. It has become a learning community online.
Q: What challenges are you specifically facing right now due to the closure?
Mr. Durkin: My challenges are staying on top of all the changes that are coming from the state of MD, the AoB, AIMS and communicating regularly with other principals. Emails are coming in faster than I can respond. Things are changing by the hour.
Q: What are some of the positive things you have witnessed since we have moved into online learning?
Mr. Durkin: I have (and so have others) received multiple emails from parents who are pleased with how the transition to online learning has occurred. I am so proud of our students, faculty, and staff. To quote Hawkeye Pierce, from MASH, they “are the finest kind.”
Q: On a lighter note, when you are stuck in the house, what are you watching that you would recommend?
Mr. Durkin: Other than watching the news to get updates, I haven’t watched much. When we have our granddaughter, we are watching “Sesame Street,” “Luna,” “Daniel the Tiger,” “Cat in the Hat,” “Pinkalicious,” and “Super Why.” When we don’t have our granddaughter, my escapes are listening to music and reading Agatha Christie novels.  I am rereading the very first Christie novel I ever read as a kid (I think I was 8 years old). It is called The Body in the Library.  I would recommend Agatha Christie to everyone!