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"Be a servant leader wherever you are. Look for opportunities to love your neighbors,
share the Gospel, and make an impact in your local community.
Now is your time to shine, Bearcats, and be a light to the world." - Dr. Eric A. Turner, SBU President
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we go about our day-to-day lives. It has claimed thousands of lives and sickened many more. During these vulnerable and uncertain times, Southwest Baptist University alumni are stepping in and stepping up where they are to be the servant leaders they are called to be. A few of our alumni, who are doing just that, were featured in the most recent edition of SBUlife.
Volunteering time and talents
When he saw a Facebook post from someone with Citizens Memorial Hospital seeking help in trying to print 3D-printable respirator masks to combat COVID-19, Keith Kelly ’11 first enlisted the help of fellow SBU alum Matt Winder ’10 to go to work on the project.
“We collaborated with physicians through video to show them several designs we found online, then we made design modifications based on their feedback,” Kelly said. “Within five days (and an entire bucket of rejects), we had two customized versions that passed the Qualitative Fit Test. These designs both used adequate filtration, were easy to breathe through, were reasonably comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, maintained a good seal, and were easily printable and feasible to deploy.
“Since then, Lucas Roberts ’15 has joined the team and has taken the PR lead, as well as written a ton of documentation (and done insanely well). Several others have joined the team as well, volunteering their printers, time and money to help get these things cranked out as quick as possible.”
Danny Miller ’06 also has recently joined the team of volunteers as they print the respirator masks for CMH, as well as help others outside of Bolivar, including physicians from other clinics, suppliers or donors.
“In fact, a friend currently under lockdown in India donated HEPA filters for 140 masks through an order from Fleet Farm Supply,” Kelly said.
Volunteers have spent many hours on the project, in addition to the responsibilities they have at their jobs.
“My employer, Duck Creek, was super-supportive of my involvement in this project – especially the critical, first few days when I was putting a good 14-18 hours per day in the prototyping/design/testing part, along with Matt,” Kelly said. “Now that a design has been chosen and we're on week number two, I'm only spending about 6-8 hours a day on this project – mainly making connections with people, tracking down supplies, donations, doing interviews and helping others on the team get what they need.
“That's still a lot of time if you look at the numbers, but this is suddenly what I do in my free time. Working with volunteers is great – nobody's doing it for the money – and interacting with people is quite fun when everyone has a giving spirit.”
SBU faculty members Dr. Perry Tompkins, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics and professor of physics, and Dr. Dennis Siegfried, professor of biology and department chair, also have volunteered their time and efforts in assisting with the printing of the masks.
“Dr. Siegfried told me about the effort and since I have four 3D printers, I started printing parts and helping in the final phases of the design,” Tompkins said. “I currently have two of my printers printing parts. This is an effort of supporting our local community, serving those who are serving us. They are a backup plan, not meant to replace the standard masks. Serving others is one of the backbone principles at SBU.”
Working on this project during these unprecedented times revealed SBU’s mission to Kelly in a number of ways as he and Winder navigated their way through those first days of prototyping.
“It was daunting, hard, encouraging and discouraging at times,” Kelly said. “Matt demonstrated the servant-leader side a couple of notable times when it was 2 a.m. and I was wrapping up another design prototype. He'd call to simply be available in case I had any issues. He'd even think ahead to upcoming things on my list in order to help me get a jump-start on those.
“This sounds like I was the designer in this project, which is simply untrue. We both built prototypes and sort of volleyed them back and forth to each other, building on each other's findings.”
A researcher-by-hobby, Kelly said he did have difficulty coping at first, because the more research he did, “the more grim the situation looked.”
“But once this opportunity came up and I jumped in, I realized my purpose is not to worry; it's not to obsess over trends,” Kelly said. “It's to observe the reality of the trends and do what I can to help people who will likely be affected by those trends.”
Combining creative teaching, mentoring colleagues
With schools across the country moving their coursework to virtual learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have had to be creative, as well as equipped, to deliver lessons to their students.
For Angie Kriegshauser ’19, a K-5 music teacher in St. Louis, that can be especially challenging. But, after earning her master’s degree in Instructional Technology Leadership from SBU, Kriegshauser was prepared to take on the challenge of helping her students – and colleagues.
“Recently, another SBU alum – April Conrad ’19 – and I created a Google Classroom titled ‘E-Learning/Tech Tools and Resources’ with all of the technology tools that we have learned throughout our courses at SBU for our building colleagues,” Kriegshauser said. “I also created a Google Classroom for my K-5 music colleagues where we share ideas for lessons, and I have shared several technology tools that I have learned through SBU. April and I are in frequent contact with both sets of colleagues and via text, if a technology question would arise at any time.”
For her students, Kriegshauser has created screencasts so they not only get to hear her voice, but also are able to see her, as she includes herself within the lesson.
“I have created, and will continue to create, several screencasts, post to Seesaw, Google Classroom and provide my email address in order to keep in contact with my K-5 students,” Kriegshauser said. “Every Monday, I schedule Google Classroom posts at 8 a.m. for my K-5 music students. Posts include anything from a screencast, links to music activities such as note reading, rhythm reading, recorder songs, vocal songs, homemade instruments, etc. I allow my students to make comments and share links of activities they have tried.”
Kriegshauser is thankful that the degree she received from SBU is allowing her to be the support her students and her colleagues need.
“Due to the knowledge I gained from my degree, I have been a mentor to my colleagues both in my building and to my fellow K-5 music teachers by sharing every possible technology tool that I learned throughout my courses at SBU,” Kriegshauser said. “And, I have offered to give assistance even though we are not together.
“And, thank you to all of my SBU instructors who gave me the technology tools that I use every day in order to virtually teach all 500 of my students music!”
Coordinating medical efforts
In her multifaceted role as Director of Nursing for Women’s and Children’s Services at Mercy Hospital Springfield – Mercy Kids, Jennifer Murray’s goal every day – especially now – is to ensure that her teams have everything they need to do their work.
“That includes getting the right people to the table to make decisions, as well as gathering the teams to create processes to meet our needs and working to get supplies and resources,” Murray ’14 ’18 said.
All of this is in addition to the hospital staff’s regular duties.
“We’ve been very busy with a lot of calls and meetings to discuss COVID-19,” Murray said. “Even the meetings are different due to the pandemic. We’ve converted them all to online WebEx calls so that we’re conforming to the social distancing rules that we know are so important to keep everyone healthy. We’re learning new things about the virus every day, and we have to be nimble and flexible to respond. What was best practice yesterday may change today, and we have to be ready to react.
“It’s also important to remember that as we’re battling this beast we call COVID-19, our other work doesn't stop. While we’ve put a temporary stop on all non-critical procedures and surgeries, there are still people in our communities that need our services. We still have families having babies, children who need care, and other people who are ill with things other than COVID-19.”
The key to getting through each day for Murray during this pandemic is to focus on what is important: “God, my family, our community, our patients and our Mercy co- workers.”
“Prayer always helps and our meetings at Mercy always begin in prayer, which keeps us centered on why we do what we do every day, and in the critical times we’re facing now,” Murray said. “Also, I’ve been taking a few minutes when it’s nice to go outside and get some sunshine. A few minutes alone on a bench outside the hospital immerses you in God’s springtime beauty and is a wonderful reminder of new life.”
Murray said she is blessed that the values at Mercy are in line with SBU’s mission as she serves those in need of care.
“Our mission statement is: 'To bring to life the healing ministry of Jesus through
our compassionate care and exceptional service.'” Murray said. “I am truly blessed
to specifically serve in areas that welcome God’s new life into the world, that heal children and that witness miracles every day in premature infants who grow up to be healthy adults.”
Serving those in need
When disaster strikes at home or abroad, Convoy of Hope is among the first to respond.
Its Disaster Services team partners with local churches, businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, donors and volunteers to serve millions of people who have been affected.
Kevin Rose ’03, Senior Director of International Program Partner Relations with Convoy of Hope, works as part of the team that serves children and families in 18 countries around the world with school feeding programs, Women's Empowerment activities and agriculture projects.
But, with the COVID-19 global pandemic, Rose and his team have had to address this crisis, as well.
“All of our operations in 18 countries have been affected and our team is working on how do we continue to serve people living in extreme poverty during this crisis,” Rose said.
Rose’s days have been filled with hours of Zoom calls to determine how and where to serve in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Our team has been busy gathering information on the most affected, making plans on how we can best respond,” Rose said. “We have a small crew at our headquarters keeping things moving, loading and unloading trucks and answering the phones. The rest of us are working remotely supporting the efforts from home.
“Convoy of Hope is busy serving here in the United States by helping equip churches to serve the most vulnerable in their community because of the COVID-19 situation. This is being done with food provision and basic supplies. We have a commitment to provide 10,000,000 meals in the United States in response to COVID-19.
“Internationally, we are ensuring kids in our school feeding programs can have access to take home rations, and families have information and resources needed to shelter in place.”
Rose said that during his time at SBU, he was shown the value of servant leaders, and is eager to see how lives will be changed once the crisis is over.
“That has been a practice I have always carried with me and over time have continued to see the value of leaders serving others,” Rose said. “In our work serving hurting and vulnerable people, if we do not approach that with the heart to serve, we will miss the entire reason we exist as an organization and as believers.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the Church to be very relevant and practical in showing the love of Christ to our communities. I am excited for all the stories we will hear for years to come on how people were impacted by the love of Christ.”
Guiding transition to virtual learning
As a leader in the largest school district in Missouri, Shane Dublin, Ed.D., ’99, ’05, ’10, ’14 also serves in a support role – even more so in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I am blessed to work with the middle schools and high schools in our district
supporting the principals, teachers, students and staff members at each of the buildings,” said Dublin, who is in his fourth year as the Executive Director of Secondary Learning for Springfield Public Schools (SPS).
When the COVID-19 outbreak forced SPS to move to virtual learning – ‘SPS At Home’ – Dublin said it was important to meet the needs of its students as well as healthcare and emergency response personnel. The district has even been a resource to other districts across the state.
“Our primary goals during this COVID-19 situation have been to ensure all of our students have access to food and other resources via wellness checks conducted by our teachers and leaders, and to provide childcare services to the healthcare and emergency response personnel in our community,” Dublin said.
“Once the plans for these first two goals were in place, we focused our efforts on providing virtual instruction to our students and training/supporting our teachers to shift from the classroom to an online learning approach. ‘SPS At Home’ is our district’s virtual learning experience and began on March 30.
“SPS is also offering access to online curriculum to districts across the state through our already established online learning system – Launch. Launch currently has approximately 275 Missouri district partners and, due to the COVID-19 scenario, is offering the curriculum to other districts as they work to provide online learning for their students.”
Service, support and teamwork have been key to the transition, Dublin said.
“It has been a broad team of teachers, site leaders, district leaders and support personnel that have put together the plan to not only respond to these challenging times but to proactively ensure we serve our students and community,” Dublin said. “As a part of that broader team, my role is one of support to teachers and leaders as they work to provide high- quality learning services to our students.
“Identifying and removing barriers, providing resources and encouraging a positive professional culture define our Secondary Learning team’s approach to this work.”
Top photo: Matthew Winder '10, Matt Havens and Keith Kelly '11 worked to create and print respirator masks for healthcare workers.
Photo 2: Angie Kriegshauser '19 is a K-5 music teacher in St. Louis.
Photo 3: Jennifer Murray '14, '18 is the Director of Nursing for Women's and Children's Services at Mercy Hospital Springfield.
Photo 4: Kevin Rose '03 is the Senior Director of International Program Partner Relations with Convoy of Hope.
Photo 5: Shane Dublin, Ed.D., '99, '05, '10, '14 is the Executive Director of Secondary Learning for Springfield (Mo.) Public Schools.