St. Martin's teachers make the world go 'round!
Dottie Adams 8th-grade science students work on a project.
Denise Smith working in her at-home classroom.
Gwen Giedel, upper right hand corner, oversees an online undergraduate award ceremony at USC.
This week we honor teachers who have faced a semester more difficult than any they could have imagined. Through Zoom, Google, videos, emails, texts and more than their fair share of frustration, each rose to the occasion of teaching amidst a pandemic. While quarantined at home, they cared for their students, did the hard work of teaching lessons online and staying connected to their classrooms, and once again showed us how significantly teachers are woven into the fabric of our lives.
We asked a few of our teachers to share their thoughts about the experience. Here is what they had to say:
Nathan Sloan
English teacher
Dreher High School
Online teaching has confirmed for me that there is no replacement for school life, where there is an interaction that cannot be imitated via digital tools. I thrive off the interactions I have in the classroom -- actually witnessing that spark in a student's eyes and experiencing those "aha!" moments. This process has been up and down. There are students I see regularly in meetings, and students I haven't heard from since March, so I have found those moments of interaction few and far between.

However, this week I sent out scans of letters that graduating seniors had written to themselves when they took my freshman English class. This is always my favorite activity because 1) it allows my freshmen to set goals, and 2) it provides an opportunity for reflection. I had a flood of responses from students who each had a glimpse of how they grew individually over the past four years. I most enjoyed the responses where students said that they didn’t recognize the person they once were. I am grateful that I've been able to share in that journey and found a way to interact from a distance. 
Dottie Adams
8th grade science teacher
Hand Middle School
  • I miss my students; I don't miss overcrowded classes.
  • I miss doing science labs; I don't miss a pre-determined curriculum.
  • I miss my classroom; I don't miss time away from my own family.
  • I miss my colleagues; I don't miss teachers not being seen as the backbone of education.
Gwen Geidel
Research Professor
USC School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment &
the school's undergraduate director as well as teacher of multiple courses
This spring, due to the pandemic and online learning, the Undergraduate University Awards Day as well as commencement exercises were cancelled or delayed. I had the experience of planning and preparing many of the online slides, and, with the school’s director and graduate director, presented awards to our students and recognized our graduates via a large Zoom meeting on May 8. We were able to “see,” hear from, and congratulate our students before they left USC and began their career journeys! (See Gwen's photo in the upper right hand corner of the image to the left during one of the award ceremonies.)
Pam Hair
Royal School of Church Music director
& music teacher for students K-5 at Killian Elementary School
Wow, what a steep learning curve for teaching music online, especially with very little time to prepare! But I'm slowly developing those skills, and I am learning things I can use to supplement future RSCM choir rehearsals, even when we are "back to normal." I really, really miss all my students and choristers.
Denise Smith
First grade lead teacher
Heathwood Hall
Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, my daily and weekly teaching activities and responsibilities changed beyond anything I could have previously imagined. I went from delivering direct instruction each day in front of 14 amazing first-graders to remote teaching in front of an iPad that either Noah or Lydia holds every afternoon as I film for the next day's lessons.
Like all other educators across the Midlands, the state, the U.S. and even the globe, I had to adjust and adapt quickly; however, it was all made possible by my fantastic team at Heathwood. We came together to collaborate and deliver the best possible instruction, both synchronously and asynchronously, with our students' well-being at the forefront of our instruction. One effect of this situation: I have had the opportunity to really evaluate my delivery of instruction. I am in a position to look at my teaching style with a critical eye and make adjustments. This has helped me to move past the struggles of the uncertain times, and to focus on what I can do better to support my students and families. In all of this, I pray I am doing my part to care for others and their needs. As time moves forward, and when we are safely able to gather, I look forward to embracing my students again. 
Masks for DJJ & the homeless
We are nearing our goal. We now need 91 sewn, reusable masks for our housing-insecure friends in Columbia and the young people at the Department of Juvenile Justice.
To donate, please sew as many masks as you are able and drop them off in the mail slot at the church office. Thank you!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As my children enter their last couple of weeks of school, I cannot help but marvel at how much has changed. In some ways I have enjoyed the extra time with both of my children, and yet, at the same time, long for them to be reconnected with friends. I suspect every parent at St. Martin's feels, at least to some degree, the same sort of feelings that I have. We want to see our children happy, with friends, on the sporting fields, in plays or productions, and, yet, so much of this is gone for the time being. 

A bright light for me during this time has been what my children's teachers have done. Just yesterday, Lydia got a letter from one teacher asking about her dog. On another day, books showed up on the doorstep, and still yet, on another day, a science experiment. Watching Noah in class have "ZOOM" meetings with teachers who care has also been great. They have done what we at the church have tried to do, keep community. 

This week as we celebrate teachers, and next week, our seniors, I pray they all know how much they are loved! Teachers, loved by their students; and students, loved by their teachers; and all, by their families, their church, and, most importantly, their God. I pray that they see the effort that has gone into their success. For our seniors, my heart hurts for the things they have missed like the proms, the ceremonies, the long goodbyes on the last day of school and the graduation parties. But my heart is also filled with hope. COVID-19 is a global crisis. As such, this senior class has seen the inter-connectedness of the world in a way that is truly unique. They have seen through youthful and articulate eyes, privilege and poverty, disease and health. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I truly believe these sights will shape them and us into a more compassionate humanity. I give thanks for our teachers, and I pray for our youth, particularly our seniors, every day. 

In Christ,

Should you be in need of pastoral care , please use the dedicated extension,
(Ext. 201) when you call the parish office, 803.787.0392.
While scrolling Instagram, be sure to follow @smifsc for the Three-Word Gospel on Tuesdays, a brief summary of the upcoming Gospel, and ComplinefromHome postings, short evening prayers or thoughts, Monday through Friday. This week's compline postings reflect on evening in downtown Columbia and were taken by the Rev. Ginger Barfield, Ph.D., a member of St. Martin's and biblical studies professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary, another of St. Martin's valued teachers.
Do you have a graduate in your family? Please send the student's name, parents or grandparents names, the school he or she is graduating from, and next steps planned by the student to We will print them in next Thursday's (May 28) E-Messenger. Must be received by 5 p.m. May 27 to be included.
Thank you in advance for keeping your pledge current during this time of uncertainty. You may pay your pledge in these ways:

  • Use this link to keep your pledge up-to-date by going online. You will need your bank routing number, which is the first set of numbers printed on the bottom of your checks, on the left side. You will also need your account number, which is the next set of numbers beside the routing number at the bottom of your check. This online link is safe and secure. 
  • You may also mail your checks to the Parish Office at 5220 Clemson Ave., Columbia, SC 29206.
5220 Clemson Avenue
Columbia, SC 29206
803.787.0392 |