Expanding opportunities through new curriculum and technology

In support of the school’s growth in size and academia, Sacred Heart Greenwich integrated many changes to the Upper School during the summer, including the promotion of Mrs. Jennifer Bensen to Head of Upper School.  Mrs. Bensen aims to focus on Goal Two of Sacred Heart’s Goals and Criteria, “a deep respect for intellectual values,” through the implementation of curricular and technological advancements of academic courses including new Upper School classes, and the renovation of the Broadcast Journalism suite.

The new anatomage table in room 311 of the Science Wing offers new opportunities to Upper School students.  Sydney Gallop ’20

Mrs. Bensen is continuing the legacy of the many Upper School Heads who came before her.  She previously served as Upper School Academic Dean, Network Exchange Coordinator, and Director of Summer Enrichment.  Her transition to Head of Upper School officially began July 1, 2018.  Mrs. Bensen said this gave her a chance to settle in before students arrived back to campus. 

“I hope to represent Sacred Heart and the Mission in all facets of my role,” Mrs. Bensen said.  “I am consistently awed by the accomplishments of the students, and when they experience success, it is rewarding for the entire community to celebrate along with them.” 

Mrs. Bensen also commented on the updated school website.  She pointed out that this project has been a work in progress for several months now, and the faculty, staff, and administrators are working collaboratively to adapt to the new site.  The updated school website now allows students to access their schedules, assignments, and grades on one platform, known as “OnCampus.”

The science department introduced an Anatomy and Physiology elective course, which senior Meredith Wilson proposed.  According to Mrs. Bensen, Meredith became interested in the subject while on a school service trip in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2017.  Ms. Amy Dillane and Ms. Mary Musolino, Upper School Science Teachers, supported Meredith’s initiative and followed with the proposal for an anatomage table, a device that can perform virtual dissections of different species.

Lily DeConcini ’20 works on a project in the David J. Bloom Broadcast Journalism suite.  Sydney Gallop ’20

This year, students are able to take advantage of new courses offered through SophieConnect, an online division of the Sacred Heart Network schools.  Sacred Heart Greenwich faculty members teach the new classes on SophieConnect.

Mr. Joseph Valentine, Upper School History Teacher, created an online Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography course, and Miss Karen Panarella, Upper School Dean of Students and Yearbook Moderator, moved a preexisting sophomore Financial Literacy course to the site.  Mr. Karl Haeseler, Director of Educational Technology, Upper School Computer Teacher, and Co-Director of SophieConnect, changed AP Computer Science Principles to an online course.

“Faculty members in all disciplines adjust their course curriculum and consistently enhance how the course is offered to challenge and expose students to an ever-changing society and world and develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills,” Mrs. Bensen said.  “At Sacred Heart, we go beyond that to also develop a faith, respect, awareness, community, and growth in each student.”

The school also added new technological features to the Broadcast Journalism program.  The renovations provide new opportunities for Sacred Heart’s future filmmakers.  Ms. Ellyn Stewart, Broadcast Journalism Studio Director and Broadcast Journalism Teacher, explained how the new suite offers more space for editing videos to accommodate the increasing number of students in the class.  

Broadcast students Piper Van Wagenen ’20, Mary O’Connor ’21, Sophia Curto ’20, and Sophia Georgas ’20 work together at new desks near the Broadcast suite.  Sydney Gallop ’20

The renovation includes the addition of a sound booth that allows students to record voice-overs, dialogue, and podcasts in a soundproofed room.  Additionally, the new cyclorama, a custom-fitted multi-curtain system, now provides Broadcast Journalism students more choices of different backdrops when filming.

“The new studio improvements allow students to collaborate more creatively,” Ms. Stewart said.  “Students and faculty are thrilled with how much these improvements have helped the broadcast program already in just the first weeks of school.”

Ms. Stewart is optimistic that the suite’s new features will encourage students to cultivate careers in filmmaking and fill the gap between men and women in broadcasting.

“There is still a strong gender divide in broadcast journalism,” Ms. Stewart said.  “I am hopeful that as our program continues to flourish that we will help pave the way for more women in leadership and on-air roles in the media world.”

Featured Image by Sydney Gallop ’20
Updated 10/4/2018– A previous version of this article referred to the cyclorama as a device with asymmetrical reflector design