April Matthias

I teach graduate students in a fully online asynchronous nursing program. This means interactions with students consist mostly of written text and short, recorded videos, and face-to-face interaction is rare. The online environment provides limited opportunities to form personal relationships, share God, and serve as a Christian role model. I valued the relationships I had developed with my face-to-face students and the positive influence I was able to have on their lives academically, professionally, and personally before I became an online educator exclusively. I needed to find a comparable way to engage with my online students. I presented to God through prayer my uncertainty about how to engage with my online students as a Christian faculty. He, in turn, provided and continues to provide me His strength to demonstrate engagement through three simple acts of Christian love—empathy, grace, and prayer—to positively influence students. With God’s presence in my heart, I use empathy, grace, and prayer to connect with my students on a personal level despite the physical separation. My students are professional nurses working full-time while also juggling the demands of school and family. Extending empathy and grace, truly understanding their busy lives and working with them individually to be successful, not only provides them a positive academic experience but also demonstrates their importance to me and nursing, my appreciation for their dedication, and most of all, God’s love for them as His children. As I learn of my students’ difficulties, fears, or high stress, I encourage my students with positive affirmations, tell them I will pray for them, and then I pray for my students both individually and collectively. When a student displays frustration inappropriately after receiving undesirable feedback, I extend empathy and grace. I remember it is not personal toward me, but its personal for them and so I calmly and consistently communicate to help them see the good in their work, and then help them develop a solid plan for improvement. I also provide a consistent reminder that God is present in my life, my teaching, and their lives when I wish them a blessed week in every weekly announcement. My students positively benefit when God remains at the center of my interactions with them. It is my hope they will be drawn to Him as they witness my dependence on and faith in God demonstrated through my prayers for them. God’s presence in my life allow me to demonstrate these simple acts of Christian love to my students. I found through my relationship with God and through the acts of empathy, grace, and prayer, I adequately and confidentially engage with my students, help them be successful, and positively influence my students’ lives in the online environment. There is great power in God’s presence and I have witnessed how the acts of empathy, grace, and prayer move beyond my students’ ears and penetrate their hearts.

My Life

Favorite Quote

Favorite Scripture: Philippians 4:6 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Friends describe me

Caring, direct, passionate, and fun

My hobbies

Pure Barre and Pilates (great stress reliever!); horseback riding; watching movies; and cooking.

Fantasy dinner guests

Hmmmm...too many to name just one.

Best advice I ever received

Just rest...don't quit!

My undergrad alma mater

Waynesburg University

My worst subject in school

English

In college I drove

Plymouth Duster

If I weren't a professor, I would

still be a nurse!

Favorite books

Nicholas Sparks books

Favorite movies

Secretariat

Favorite city

None - Country girl at heart

Favorite coffee

Hazelnut but black

Nobody knows I

Not sure because I'm pretty open.

My latest accomplishment

Personally - finally painted that room!! Professionally - grants to fund archive research!

Current Research

Nursing history and nursing education research studying the professional identity and role development of the entry-level nurse. Current funded study - studying the educational quality of early 20th century correspondence courses (distance education) in nursing.