Kelly Hohler

Kelly Hohler

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ashland Source asked readers to nominate heroes from the community in the fight against the coronavirus using our Open Source platform. One reader nominated Hillsdale Middle School guidance counselor Kelly Hohler.

JEROMESVILLE — The way Kelly Hohler sees it, she hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary.

The Hillsdale community thinks otherwise.

A guidance counselor at Hillsdale Middle School, Hohler was nominated as an Ashland Source Daily Hero for her continued dedication to students during an unprecedented time in the Ohio education system’s history. Hohler was nominated by Vella King.

“She has been so proactive in reaching out to our littlest ones … and to our seniors that are missing making memories,” King wrote in her nomination. “She has been a key member of the staff, reaching out to answer parents’ questions and concerns and trying to make these trying times as easy as possible for our students, parents and community.”

Educators have been forced to scrap their playbooks as schools have shifted from traditional classroom settings to a distance learning model because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday extended school closures through at least May 1 and indicated buildings may remain dark until the end of the school year.

All of the uncertainty has been unsettling for students and that’s where Hohler comes in — but the 24-year Hillsdale veteran is quick to point out she isn’t a one-person show.

“Between myself, our school liaison, Tammy Hoverstock; our school-based therapist, Amy Morgan; our principal, Tim Keib; and our (school resource officer), Deputy Brian Martin, we have tried to make sure all students are supported,” said Hohler, who was also quick to recognize the work of high school liaison Kim Smetzer, high school counselor Scott Call, high school media specialist Scarlett Raines and, “a great mental health and wellness team.”

“I also want to shout out to all staff,” Hohler said. “It is fun to see the kids learning in a virtual environment. The teachers are doing an amazing job.There’s lots of face-to-face online teaching happening plus our curriculum director, Alyson Baker, holds virtual meetings to make sure teachers are supported.

“Our buildings are being thoroughly sanitized by our janitors and support staff, our secretaries are manning the phones, food is being packaged and delivered by cafeteria staff and bus drivers, and our principals and superintendent are trying to keep things tied together so that this works.”

Hohler is doing her best to keep the student body’s morale high. Her ‘Senior Spotlight’ on the community Facebook page has become a popular feature for students and staff.

“Each day I feature a senior including a picture, memories and future plans,” Hohler said. “I have also done a ‘My View from Home,’ spot where elementary kids can share their view and explain what they see, hear and smell.

“I have been doing lots of things in a more public aspect to help keep spirits up. We will do a spirit week and I have one other idea that I hope will come to fruition. I want to collaborate with Jennifer Seman, our Communications Specialist, first.”

The spirit of cooperation will be more important than ever as students and staff navigate the uncertain times.

“Our district theme this year is ‘#bettertogether,’ ” Hohler said. “Based on that, my advice would be to keep working closely with each other. Maintain the bond and relationship you have with others in any way you can. We are only physically distancing, not socially.

“Stay engaged, practice empathy and grace and we will all get through this because we are better together.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.