Building [Virtual] Community
Kaitlyn Radoha, '22

I genuinely feel like I have the best job in the world,” says Mrs. Ruthie Hoving, who teaches first grade. 

Mrs. Hoving dreamed of becoming a teacher since second grade. She grew up in Christian schools and always wanted to give other students what those teachers had given to her. 

Mrs. Hoving starts each day with devotions and keeps a list of her students’ prayer requests.  “It’s really special to be able to have a kid say to you ‘my mom is feeling sick today’ and then being able to pray for them as a class,” Mrs. Hoving says. “We’re our own little community.” 

Mrs. Hoving works hard to build a community. She devotes time to talk about treating other people the way God wants us to.

So when the school was instructed to close down due to COVID-19, and switch to home learning, it was hard on some of her students. What they missed most, though, was the community. They described it as “not fun” and “missing their friends.” 

The part of what makes Timothy so special is the community.

“The part of what makes Timothy so special is the community and now missing out on that community, especially in a time that just feels confusing and we don’t know what’s going on and then to have your people taken away,” Mrs. Hoving explains. “It’s hard for kids. It’s hard for me not to be with my coworkers and my friends.”

Despite this, Mrs. Hoving still wanted to build a virtual community with her first graders, so she called each of her students to check in on them. “That was really sweet to be able to connect with them,” she says, “and to have a chance to see how much they smile when my face pops up on the screen.” 

Later, she created small Google Meet groups for her students to join and see their friends. It’s the purely social interactions that are so significant. “It’s important to them, their friends, that’s their whole world other than their mom and dad,” Mrs. Hoving says. 

To combat some of this separation, Mrs. Hoving sends each of her students a weekly piece of mail. “The first week I sent postcards with ladybugs on them, the second week I sent envelopes that had a Scholastic newspaper, word searches, and a note from me,” Mrs. Hoving explains. “The third week it was an old school picture of me.” 

The latest was a postcard after they did a “show and tell” where she responded to each of them. Through all of this, she has kept up with daily class devotions and students’ prayer requests.

“I think the best thing to do is to reach out right now,” Mrs. Hoving says. “It’s just a connection with people. Finding ways to do that is different than before because we can’t connect by seeing somebody, but we can connect via the computer or snail mail. There are other ways to do it. We just have to remind ourselves of those ways.”


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