Hoosick Falls student learns 'virtually' while out sick

Posted at: 02/14/2013 5:30 PM
Updated at: 02/14/2013 5:36 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

HOOSICK FALLS - It's math class at St. Mary's Academy, and one of the desks is empty where a 7th grader is out sick, but only 'physically.'

John Paul Loughlin was taking the math virtually: learning and interacting with his teachers and classmates through the application Facetime on an iPad, at school and from his kitchen counter.

"When they started Facetiming me in the classroom, I was technically speaking going to school but still getting my health issues taken care of so it was a win win deal," he said.

His mother came up with the idea as John Paul faced days of testing for a seizure disorder, and shared it with Principal Maureen Daurio.

"She said, 'wouldn't it be cool if we could Facetime him into the classroom so he wouldn't miss anything?'" Said Daurio. "And all of a sudden we decided, you know what? That's not so crazy after all. We could make thiswork."

This week John Paul took virtual classes from his hospital bed and from home.

"It would have taken a tutor to catch him up to those days he would have missed. Homework was sent home by little brother and it was just amazing," said Mary Jo Loughlin,  his mother.

Fellow students have taken John Paul on walks through the halls on the iPad and to lunch in the cafeteria.

Whether it's hanging out with friends or learning, John Paul's teacher and friends agreed that the technology was helping everyone.

"They're happier because they're not worried about him. To see him and know he's okay has helped their spirits a lot," said Margaret Merwin, John Paul's math teacher.

"Happy to see him. I'm happy to know he's okay cause we're able to talk to him, ask what's going on with him. And stuff like that," said Nick Giordano, a classmate.

St. Mary's Academy principal Maureen Daurio said the school introduced the iPads this year, creating a technology lab. She hoped to use them to help other students who will be absent from school.