As educators are facing challenging circumstances in the COVID-19 pandemic, members of River Rock Community Church, a Christian Reformed congregation in Rockford, Mich., are supporting teachers at two nearby elementary schools through an Adopt-A-Teacher initiative.
River Rock has had a longstanding relationship with Meadow Ridge Elementary School, a public school about three miles from the church, primarily through Kids Hope USA, a faith-based mentoring program for students.
"Without question, River Rock Church has been our dearest friend the last eight years,” Meadow Ridge principal Blake Bowman said.
But with the Kids Hope program altered by the pandemic this fall—mentors are pen-paling students instead of offering the usual in-person after-school connection—the congregation wanted to find another way to demonstrate its support for the school.
The commitment to the Adopt-A-Teacher initiative is once a month, where church members send a card or gift to show their appreciation for the teacher they have adopted.
“We’ve adopted all the teachers (kindergarten through fifth grade), the secretaries, the custodian and the principal at Meadow Ridge,” said Mandi Molt, who is Kids Hope director at River Rock. “Those that are gifting are current (Kids Hope) mentors who already have connection to one of the teachers and members of our church who just feel called to (share love with) our local teachers.”
Teachers have responded back, expressing their gratitude for the support of the church.
"It's not about the flowers or the candy. It's the emotional impact of being appreciated,” principal Bowman said.
“I believe when we bless others we are blessed more,” said Molt. “Everything feels a little harder these days, and this small token of love can be just what someone needs to brighten the moment.”
Some other past projects River Rock has been involved with at Meadow Ridge include providing food to students and families facing economic challenges, Bowman said.
"Whatever the need we have had, the church has found a solution,” he said.
River Rock's Adopt-A-Teacher campaign also includes staff at Rockford Christian School. The same elements of monthly encouragement are going out to staff there.