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Teacher Feature: Meet Mrs. Joan Helms

By OLMA Headlines

When it comes to having a can-do, glass-always-half-full attitude, Mrs. Joan Helms is an expert. This talented artist-educator inspires confidence and creativity in all who enter her classroom — on campus and online. 

Art class can be particularly challenging to transition to an online format, but that didn’t stop Mrs. Helms. Of course, in true Mrs. Helms fashion, she credits her students for the classes’ success. “The kids have been incredibly flexible,” she said. “From day one, they were full steam ahead, and none of them have missed an assignment.” 

Mrs. Helms explained that she shifted the focus of her Painting and 2D/3D classes from paints and clay to drawing. “Drawing is an essential skill for any art and something that lends itself well to an online environment,” she said. “The girls are doing some really great work as part of a nine-day challenge. I asked them to do one drawing every day for nine days. I also introduced them to a new artist each day that they learned about through video.” 

Mrs. Helms said the challenge idea came from a blog she follows that’s written by an artist who created one new painting every day for a year. “If she could do it every day for a year, we could do it for nine days,” said Mrs. Helms. “The girls went for it right away and enjoyed the work. Plus, they were able to learn from a variety of artists, which helped broaden their thinking.” 

For her Graphic Design class, Mrs. Helms is utilizing a drawing program called Sketch Pad. “The girls just finished creating underwater scenes using only shape-based images,” she said. “They did a great job.” 

While making the switch to online teaching so quickly has presented some challenges, Mrs. Helms also sees many positives. “Working in a completely different way and without a studio full of tools forces us to be more resourceful and to think outside the box when it comes to educating our students,” she said. “I’ve found some wonderful resources that I will continue using even when we’re back in the classroom. This experience is helping us all realize just how much we are capable of doing. I think that’s a good thing.”

Student Spotlight: Meet LilyAnna Lemauro, Class of 2023

By OLMA Headlines

LilyAnna Lemauro is one extraordinary young woman — smart, talented, and caring beyond belief. While she seems a little on the shy side at first, she is full of surprises and says that OLMA has brought her out of her shell. Originally, OLMA wasn’t LilyAnna’s first choice, but when she shadowed, she knew it was the place where she needed to be. “Academically, I wanted the challenge,” she said. “I also knew that I could be myself and grow my confidence in a way that would help me be more outgoing when out of my comfort zone.”

As it turns out, LilyAnna’s comfort zone is a place where most people are uncomfortable — on stage, with a microphone in hand. “I am a member of the Harmony Show Choir, which is part of Mainstage Center for the Arts,” said LilyAnna. “Believe it or not, I’m most comfortable when I’m singing or dancing. Music is my home and where I can shine.”

That she does, and not just for herself. LilyAnna has a heart the size of Texas. She spends a lot of her time performing for Kidz4Cuz!, an organization that promotes mental health awareness through music for kids and teens. “My vocal coach, Debra Michaels, started the foundation as a way to help people use their voices and talents to bring hope and comfort to people who are battling depression or dealing with grief,” said LilyAnna. “We perform in a variety of places, and people can request us as well. It allows me to express myself for the good of others, and I love it.”

Academically, LilyAnna is exceptional and enjoys the challenge she gets from her teachers. “I’m always working toward something, a new goal,” she said. “It’s much different than when I was in middle school and is even working well online. I miss seeing everyone in person every day, but the transition was flawless. I’m also using the teachers’ office hours to get help when I need it. For me, it’s the same as staying after class for a few minutes.”

We are happy to hear that, LilyAnna — and thank you for sharing the song you recorded as part of Kidz4Cuz!. (Click on the video below to listen.) 

Senior Spotlight: Maris Horner

By OLMA Headlines, Senior Spotlight

If you ever find yourself in need of a little extra sunshine in your day, Maris Horner is the app for that! This young woman perpetually sunny with a smile that is contagious. She cares deeply about her fellow sisters, as well as for OLMA’s faculty and staff. If she senses that something’s not quite right, she wants to know why and how she can help. Maris is a natural leader and outstanding athlete who will attend Caldwell University. She will study Mental Health Counseling and play Lacrosse. Maris has a seemingly unlimited amount of energy and is proud to be an OLMA student. We are proud of you, Maris, and wish you much success!

#Classof2020 #OLMA2020 #2020Strong #Sisterhood #OLMAPride #WomenLeadingChange

Senior Spotlight: Amanda Guzman

By OLMA Headlines, Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: Today is Amanda Guzman day! This young woman is bound for Stockton University to study Early Childhood Education, a career field that suits her well. Mandy is kind, patient and has a great sense of humor. She is a hard worker and never gives up. If you’ve had the pleasure of hearing Mandy sing, you know she is a great talent. Her voice and artwork exude passion. Her favorite thing about OLMA is its family feel and constant support for one another. Mandy has surely contributed to that tenfold. Congratulations!

#Classof2020 #OLMA2020 #2020Strong #Sisterhood #OLMAPride #WomenLeadingChange

Student Spotlight: Madeline Fawcett

By OLMA Headlines, Senior Spotlight

Today, we spotlight senior, Madeline Fawcett. OLMA’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian, this young woman is destined for success. She is one of OLMA’s biggest fans and has given back as a student tutor, part of Student Government and NHS, as part of the cast of four OLMA-Prep musicals, and on the river as part of the Crew Team. She is also part of the Blood Drive Committee and is often seen handing out homemade cookies…just because. She has a huge heart and will be attending LaSalle University this fall. Congratulations!

#Classof 2020 #OLMA2020 #2020Strong #Sisterhood #OLMAPride #WomenLeadingChange

Senior Spotlight: Emily Torrence

By OLMA Headlines, Senior Spotlight

Today’s Senior Spotlight: Emily Torrence. Emily joined OLMA in her junior year, but we can hardly recall a time when she wasn’t here. We will miss her larger-than-life smile, leadership, and amazing voice as she moves on to Pepperdine University on a partial scholarship this fall. Emily plans to study Biology and Sustainability. Congratulations to Emily and the entire Torrence family!

#Classof 2020 #OLMA2020 #2020Strong #Sisterhood #OLMAPride #WomenLeadingChange

OLMA Math Teacher at her Online Learning Desk

Teacher Feature: Meet Mrs. Callahan

By OLMA Headlines

A newcomer to OLMA, Mrs. Stephanie Callahan is living her dream of teaching high school and can’t imagine doing it anywhere else. A teacher for more nearly 20 years, Mrs. Callahan spent most of this time teaching elementary and middle-school students. “I loved it, but I’ve always wanted to get experience teaching at the high school level,” she said. “When I heard there was an opening at OLMA I knew I had to check it out.”

While Mrs. Callahan has taught many different subjects, Math is her passion. She is currently teaching two levels of Algebra I, Geometry, and both honors and college prep Pre-Calculus. “It’s a challenge, but I love it,” said Mrs. Callahan. “Everyone is incredibly supportive at OLMA. The administration, my fellow teachers, and my students are kind and helpful. We learn a lot from each other.”

That’s especially true right now as OLMA finishes up week two of it’s Online Learning Program. “As a teacher, I feel so fortunate to be part of OLMA, ” she said. “While many schools may be struggling, we were ready to go on Monday thanks to the training we received and the program we have in place. We are also lucky to be using Zoom. It’s fantastic and has many features that make it great for teaching Math. I have a virtual whiteboard and can upload graphs and then make them interactive. It also has a chat feature that the girls use to post answers to problems. That makes it easy for me to see who needs help without calling it out to the entire class. Just as we do in a regular classroom, the girls can stay after for extra instruction, or meet with me during virtual office hours.”

While Mrs. Callahan would prefer to be back on campus, she’s encouraged by the progress her students have made so far. “It’s kind of fun,” she said. “We’re all a little out of our comfort zones, but that’s okay. So far, so good.”