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Tuesday, April 14, 2020 - 11:15am


College of New Rochelle Alumna Sister Jeannie Humphries, OSU, SAS ‘93, M.S. ‘97, Ph.D., is the principal at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula (AMSU), a Catholic secondary school for girls in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx.

As directed by the Archdiocese of New York, AMSU is closed until at least April 20 and teachers are now teaching classes online. “It’s a real learning curve,” said Humphries. “Teachers are trying their absolute best. I’m so impressed by their creativity, dedication and willingness to try out anything and everything. But they feel like they’re working 24 hours a day because they’re constantly checking email and checking in with students.”

This new reliance on technology creates extra challenges because 70% of AMSU’s students live below the federal poverty line, which means that many families do not have reliable internet connections or up-to-date devices that students can use to complete schoolwork.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is taking an emotional toll as well. “We’re finding that our students are sleeping a lot because they’re sad and stressed,” explained Humphries. “To help, we’ve rearranged the school day so that we’re teaching from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with club meetings later in the day.”

What keeps Humphries motivated in times like these? “Our students. They want to do well, and they want better lives. Yesterday, we heard that one of our students received a full scholarship to the University of Chicago with enough financial aid for room and board. This is a young woman who didn’t do too well on our standardized entrance exam, but she’s done very, very well since then.” A proud College of New Rochelle (CNR) graduate and now leader of a school conducted in the Ursuline tradition, the Ursuline motto of Serviam — I will serve — holds deep meaning for Humphries.

She also gains comfort from her faith — and tries to give students comfort too. “There’s a prayer that’s said in many Ursuline schools, and it ends, ‘Saint Angela, watch over us always. Saint Ursula, protect our future,’” she said. “I keep saying to our students that we’re living with a mantra of HOPE: Hang On, Peace Emerges.”

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