|Sister Rose DiFluri is assistant superintendent of schools of the Diocese of Camden and a longtime volunteer with Middle States. Sr. Rose joined the Diocese of Camden in 1995, and one of her early responsibilities was to oversee the accreditation process with Middle States. Sr. Rose has chaired over 20 accreditation teams in her volunteer career, primarily in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Q. How has your school community adjusted to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?A. Teachers are using Zoom to deliver classroom lessons, as well as to meet one-on-one with students who may be having difficulty. Each student is participating in a minimum of four instructional hours of learning a day. This is the case in all grades, kindergarten through 12. With many parents workingremotely from home as well, they are present to monitor their children and keep them on task while they are “in school.”
Q. What are you doing to help students and teachers stay connected during this time?
A. The principals of the schools are helping to keep the teachers focused and are encouraging them with positive feedback. They are holding faculty meetings via Zoom once a week. Parents are pleased and grateful for the time and effort the teachers are devoting to make the lessons meaningful and profitable for their children. Parents have observed that “it is not just busy work,” but rather real lessons which are implementing the curriculum just as if they were in school.
Q. How did you choose a career in education and what do you find most rewarding?
A. I can’t remember a time as I was going through school myself that I didn’t want to be a teacher. That was the root of it all. Once I got to college and started taking education courses, I realized I wanted not just to be a teacher, but to also to lead Catholic schools. I wanted to plant seeds in teachers and in students that would forward the process of their lifelong learning. The most rewarding thing for me is that on a daily basis I get to impart some of my wisdom, some of what I’ve picked up along the way, to advise teachers and principals and be resources for them as they carry out their mission in their individual schools.
Q. What made you decide to volunteer with Middle States?
A. I first became involved in 1995 when I came to my position as assistant superintendent in the Diocese of Camden. One of my responsibilities was to oversee the accreditation process in our schools. I went on team visits myself, to learn more about the process. Eventually, I took the chairperson training, and I have been regularly leading teams for 20 years.
Q. What do you think are the benefits of Middle States accreditation?
A. The way I like to think of it is that in a given school the teachers, the principal and others are there every day. There is no vantage point by which to evaluate what they’re doing. The accreditation process is not an evaluation of teachers and programs, it’s a sharing of wealth and making recommendations with new sets of eyes that aren’t entrenched in the internal everyday experience.
Q. What is one thing that might surprise people about you?
A. I am an absolute devotee of daytime soap operas. I’ve been watching soaps since I was in high school when I would come home from school and my mom, who would have watched the show that day, would fill me in on what happened. Soaps are a great way to escape from reality.