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How Has the Hurricane Affected You?

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Hurricane Katrina has had a profound and widespead impact on many schools, teachers, and students. In this special edition of Talkback, we'd like to ask you to offer your comments on how the storm and flooding have affected you as an educator or parent and how you or your school is responding to the crisis. We hope this forum will serve as a helpful resource for educators and policymakers throughout the country.

29 Comments

Dear Sir:
I am a Louisiana teacher.we are expecting students in our school lcated in Baton Rouge,Louisiana.Our school was built one year ago and we are very please to have these new students.
The diaster has been stressful for me and my family.We have 10 to 15 people living in one home
at this time.
My students have discussed the diaster openly and class.Some of the students are afraid and feel these students are harmful due to the negative media representations.
Being a Louisiana, I wish the media across the country could just SEE how BATON ROUGEAN have open their WARM Hearts, jobs, HOMES and Churches to the people.
People across AMERICA has been so helpful and unselfish.
I will like to see more educators assist these students is purchasing uniforms(navy blue shirts)and kakki pants or school supplies.
for middle school students.
Again,The destruction was a historian disaster but WE IN THE SOUTH ARE very Helpful and loveable for ALL our people.

I am a "former" Orleans Parish school teacher and I feel abandoned by our district. Other districts such as Plaquemines had a Disaster Relief Fund set up for their employess which assured them of some type of financial package for emergencies such as this. We on the otherhand have simply been cast aside like garbage. The firm of Alvarez and Marcal don't care about the real people who really battled on the front line-the teachers! We have been informed the following:
1. We will only be paid up until the Hurricane.
2. We will have to wait until after Sept 15th to get it if then.
3. All our benefits (health, retirement, etc)are cancelled.
4. All accrued vacation & sick days no longer exists.
5. We should seek jobs immediately wherever we are.
6. We have no guarantee of any jobs when NO is rebuilt.
7. We are instructed to fill for unempolyment, etc. immediately.
8. The district will maintain their administrative offices in BR (jobs for them)
I bet A&M continue to collect their $450/day/person salary. I don't anticipate them stopping or returning the 20 million dollar (2 year) deal they negoitated for their services. I have to ask myself, why should it continue, only 8 out of 127 schools survived. The Hurricane preversely solved their problem for them. at this point, I could reconstruct a proper functioning school district. I say A&M should be investigated for the fraud they are perpetrating!
How has all this affected me, as you can see, I am NOT A HAPPY CAMPER!

The hurricane and its aftremath have displaced so many people and among them students and their teachers that it will be a very long time before some kind of order is restored. The area is virually abandoned at this time and so many are out of homes, jobs and prospects. Displaced teachers could be employed by districts taking in displaced students. This would require some shifting of funding, but this could also be done. Education is too important to be ignored and there needs to be a concentrated relief effort that includes some school districts to absorb both teachers and students.
Yes, it is dofficult, given the lack of certification informatio and student records, but without some continuity, too mant students would fall behind. The United States is a wealthy enough nation to creat room for displaced students and teachers until their own schools are reopened and in many cases rebuilt.
Affextes school districts that have funds in place, such as A & M, mentioned in an earlier post could use those funds to help districts that are taking in students and faculty. I would think that besides keeping body and soul together while displaced, many would benefit from having some kind of employment. Students need to still feel like students and teachers need to still feel like teachers.

I have been glued to the television for many days now watching the relief efforts unfold. My biggest concern as an educator is with the children and their education and healing. I have been trying in vain to contact various states and Departments of Education to offer assistance. Both my husband and I are recently retired superintendents of a small rural school district. We have also been in higher education and served as principals. I wish to voluteer to go to the areas of need to help in some capacity utilizing my education skills. So far I have not heard from anyone who can direct me to the right person in any state. If anyone reads this and knows how we can help please contact us @ [email protected]

To the teacher from Baton Rouge: If you would please send us a list and your address, maybe my school (in Virginia) can send you some donations of clothing or money? I would be happy to share this info with our staff.

I am a teacher at Pass Christian High School. The heroes I want to tell you about are my students. Not only have they made every effort to locate their friends and family, but they have reached out to the teachers and administration of our school. They are helping each other, providing lodging, food, and support to each other. They are assisting in the clean-up effort and are consistently questioning us about what they can do to help. My students understand the privilege of education. They were dedicated, wonderful kids before Katrina, but I have seen them grow astronomically in the
past few days. I can't wait to see them again when we reopen. The Coast should take a look at how these students are supporting each other and realize how easy it is to put aside petty differences
and become a true family.
The teachers and administration at Pass High are the other heroes I want to tell you about. We've found almost all of "us." We are still hopeful about those we haven't found. We are chomping at the bit to get these kids back into some form of a classroom. We are talking to them on the phone and the computer. We are talking to their parents. There is so much uncertainty and confusion, but the teachers and administration are a touchstone for these kids, and we are thrilled to be of assistance. Tim Holland, the baseball coach, wants to clean Pass High by himself, God Bless him. He is not only concerned about his home and family, but also the Pass High extended family that we are and were before Katrina. Tim is just one example of the loving, caring, amazing teachers, staff and administration that make up Pass High. The tears are starting to roll, so that's all I can tell you now. All of the teachers are like Coach Holland. We love Pass High and the kids. Go
Pirates!

My husband is a catastophe insurance adjuster. He is currently in Florida assesing homes that were damaged from when Hurricane Katrina hit that state. I live and teach in Texas and have no idea when I will see my husband again. We are just waiting for him to be re-deployed to Louisana, Mississippi, or Alabama. This hurricane has effected so many of us all over the nation. Maybe not directly, but through the media and stories of the victims.

EAST BATON ROUGE SCHOOLS, LA IS IN NEED OF SUPPLIES TO OPEN SCHOOLS BY WED WITH AN INCREASED ENROLLMENT LITERALLY, OVERNIGHT, OF OVER 4,000 STUDENTS. CONTACT

[email protected]

for shipping instructions.

If any teachers affected by Katrina need supplies, please supply your name, address and needs, we would like to help.

I work at a hospital for children with emotional and behavioral disorders. Our kids have been so affected by this tragedy. Generally our students have a tough time with empathy and sympathy. This event really affected them. They have started a campus wide effort to raise money. One group of 12 boys went so far as to donate their entire allowance. One boy said he didn't need his allowance. He would donate all of his allowance for the rest of his life.

I teach in a middle school in Bossier City, Louisiana. We have felt the effects of this horrible storm all the way up here. We have had over 500 students enroll in Bossier schools and over 1000 in Shreveport. The students are coming to us with nothing and many of them are not planning on returning to the N.O. area. My heart breaks for them and I hope that they will fit in with the students in our school as well as the surrounding schools. Middle school students can be so cruel. So far our students are taking them in and treating them like they have been here forever. We have had an overwhelming anount of donations to help students with uniforms and school supplies. It will be a long road in putting this state back together.

Hello,
My name is Maria Salter. I am the parent of two Hancock County school students, and am myself a student of MGCCC Jefferson Davis Campus. This catastrophe has impacted our family in several ways. One is that my children were not able to attend school since the evacuation. Not knowing when schools would be able to begin functioning again, my husband and I took our children to St. Louis, MO to live with my sister and attend school while we (my husband and I) attempt to clean up debris and make repairs to our home in Bay St. Louis, MS. In the meantime, my husband and I are staying in a motel in Hemphill, TX, approximately 5 hours from our home in BSL and 11 hours by car from our boys. My 14 year old seems to be handling things well and is enjoying his new school. My 9 year old is having issues adjusting, not to the school, but to his living arrangements. He is dealing with several separation anxiety issues. We are hopeful that we will be able to get our children back by Christmas and back into school in the Bay-Waveland area after the Christmas break. The devastation caused by Katrina was severe enough, now many children are in the same situation as ours, living with relatives in a different state while we try to rebuild or repair what Katrina has damaged or ripped apart. This has been very traumatic in many ways.

Three weeks ago, I was an upper level administrator in the New Orleans Public Schools. Today, I am without a job; my house in New Orleans East is under water; I depend on the kindness of friends to survive. In spite of these hardships, I feel blessed. So far, all of my family members are healthy and safe. We are spread out from California to Texas. I am in the Baton Rouge area because I wanted to be available to help re-invent our school district. We need a think tank of dedicated New Orleanians to help us create a new and better school district. Alvarez and Marsal, the restructuring firm hired to correct problems in the district, can focus on some aspects of the rebuilding, but they were not hired as experts on creating world-class school districts. Maybe the Council of Great City Schools could form a special task force to help our school district. Our elected officials should have daily information for the citizens of New Orleans. There is hope because we are no longer The City That Care Forgot. Thank you, everyone who cares.

I must admit that I am glad that the district that had at least fifteen schools in corrective action; thereby making them subject to state takeover,now have a real opportunity to be "recovered". The Louisiana Department of Education must now focus it's efforts on recovering a district that has long been considered the black eye of education in the state of Louisiana. As a result of Hurricane Katrina the state of Louisiana (with the assistance of the federal government) will HAVE to rebuild most of the schools in New Orleans; thereby, affording those minority students with an environments conducive to learning and hopefully with Highly Qualified teachers.

As an aside, New Orleans has more than 50,000 students in it's 105 catholic schools. One has to wonder if those students will be willing to attend the "new" New Orleans school district, once it has been rebuilt. The New Orleans schools will then go from the "Recovery School District" to the "Reconstructed/Revitalized School District". No longer "Separate but Equal". Think about it....

I presently teach elementary students in a rural Louisiana school north of Baton Rouge. We have the privledge of having among our student body the addition of about 80 new students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. These students are from Mississippi and Louisiana. Our district has also hired several of the displaced teachers to help with the new students. In my class alone, my enrollment increased to 31 in four days. But at the end of the week, another section was added. I have one student that cries every day because he does not know where his grandmother or his pets are. We have a social worker that was also displaced from Orleans Parish and is very helpful to these students. This is a unique situation and we can only make the best of it by accentuating the positive. These children and their families need our love and support during this most difficult time in their lives. My other students are getting a lesson in how to respond to their fellow man in need.

i'm from Taiwan. it's pity that hurrican caused a great damage in the Uninted States.
During this summer season, there are a lot of Tyhpoon in Taiwan,and resulted floods in southern part of my country. I can realize the feeling of all of you.

i just want to show my concern and support to everyone suffering the damage of Katrina.

My family lost everything but they survived. I am glad that they got away in time.

As a former employee of New Orleans Public Schools, I feel very upset that my district that I have devoted much of my time and interest has just stated here is your check and dont expect any more.

When I look at how many sick days I have left that I could have used. When I look at the care that I gave my school district. When I look at how much money this district is still wasting because administrators have blackberry devices(no one has thought to get employee databases of personal info in these in cases of emergency) that have not been turned off. I get very angry! I feel badly for our poor students, and my fellow dedicated coworkers. CREATE A PLAN OF ACTION NOW!!!

I am blessed that God has spared my life and that of my family, but my friends and coworkers are now all around this country. I agree with Dr. Smith it is up to us to take our district back.

well, i don't know how deeply I myself am affected but one of my best friends, violet, lives in new orleans and has been relocated. i feel bad for the kids who are having to have school put off until later, and thus delaying college. i only wish there was something else i could do, but i am only fifteen.

My heart still races when I see the pictures from the Gulf Coast. Besides donating money, a group of us wanted to do something more concrete to help those affected.

According to an article in Newsweek (Childress, September 12, 2005), “Mental trauma will be the biggest long-term concern, health experts predict. Children, especially those separated from their families, will be hit the hardest, overwhelmed by ‘feelings of abandonment, isolation, and disconnection,’ says Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness” (p. 51).

I am spearheading a project to reach out to the displaced / affected children. We are not looking for money. Instead, we are looking to publish (professionally or non-professionally) a guided journal that we can put in to the hands of as many kids affected as possible. I have created a blog for this project at http://highergroundjournal.blogspot.com and an email at [email protected] Here are some ways that you can help…

Teachers, are you looking for concrete ways to help young victims of Hurricane Katrina? One way to help is through sharing submissions for a guided journal that will be given to kids who were affected by Katrina’s aftermath. You can share writings and drawings from your students or you can submit writing prompt ideas.

Educators, counselors, health professionals, community, and business leaders, along with others are joining to create a concrete expression of our concern for those affected, while also helping the victims express their feelings and hopes. The Higher Ground Journal: Writing Out the Storm is that concrete expression.

How You Can Help
Many of us already know the power of writing and drawing to work through difficult issues. We are looking for creative writing / drawing prompts to include in the journal. These prompts should help students to focus on managing their emotions and loss, nurturing their hopes and dreams, and sharing their experiences. We need your creative ideas, prompts, story starters, etc. to make this journal a powerful means of healing. Authors of submissions that are included in the journal will be listed in the Contributors section and will receive an electronic version of the completed journal via email. To submit your ideas, please email [email protected] by OCTOBER 22, 2005. Also, do you know of wonderful poems and quotes that would benefit this project? Are they in the public domain or free of copyright restrictions? What about photographs that you have taken that would enhance the journal? We would love to view these or other ideas you have to make this a truly special gift.

How Your Students Can Help
Ask your students to complete one or more of the following prompts about their hopes for the affected students. Feel free to modify the prompts as best suits the needs of your curriculum and your class. For each student submission, could you please include:

• your name, phone number, email address,
• the name, city, and state of your school,
• your class / grade,
• and the student’s first name and last initial, as well as their age on any creation you are submitting.

This information is for tracking purposes; only the student’s initials, age, and state will be included in the actual journal when it is created.

Please send all submissions by October 22, 2005, to:

Higher Ground Journal Submissions,
c/o Lara Hill, District Instructional Technology Facilitator, Haddon Township High School, 406 Memorial Ave, Westmont, NJ 08108.

You can also email electronic versions (jpg, gif, png, pdf, or .doc) of the creations to [email protected] Looking for more information, check out http://highergroundjournal.blogspot.com.

_______________
Prompts for Students Who Want to Help

1. If you could send a telegram or text message to a student who was your age that had been affected by Hurricane Katrina, what would you say? Optional: You only have 100 spaces for your characters including periods, commas, spaces, etc.
2. Many students around the world would like to help the students that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Writing is a powerful way to comfort others. Write an open letter to a student who was affected by the hurricane. What would you say?
3. If you could make a wish for a student who is your age that was affected by Hurricane Katrina, what would it be? Why?
4. Which book, song, or story gets you through difficult times? Why?
5. Draw a gift that you would like to give a student who was affected by Hurricane Katrina. Which gift would you choose? Why did you choose this gift?
6. Draw a picture of yourself as a superhero coming to help those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina.
7. Draw a picture of your favorite place to go when you feel afraid.
8. Write a poem that you would want to share with a student who was affected by Hurricane Katrina.
9. Write the lyrics to a song that would make kids who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina feel hopeful.
10. Write about a time when you lost something or someone that you loved. What helped you to get through this?
11. Finish one of these starters:
- a. If I was a superhero, I would…
- b. Whenever I feel lonely or sad, I…
- c. The lamp was right there in front of me. “Three wishes,” the Genie had said. I know that those people who were affected by the storm need so many things. They need much more than I do. I am going to…
- d. When I heard about Hurricane Katrina and its effects, I felt…
- e. The Hurricane Katrina Medal of Bravery goes to ________________, for (his, her, or their) efforts to help…
12. Imagine it is a year after Hurricane Katrina, and it is the first day of school. You are one of the teachers at a school that had been closed this past year because of the storm. Write a speech, note, or letter that you would give to your new class.

Thank you for whatever help you can offer.

Lara Hill

How much can really be said about a situation that has never existed in our nation - even following riots from the late 60s / early 70s?
I say that we first need to ask God for help -
[2 Chronicles 7: 14]

It is possible , believe it or not, to get things up and running to a level higher than they once were. Unfortunately, the greed of A&M, and other negative factors will set any possibility of rebuilding into backwards motion.

These children may stand to lose an entire year or two of schooling, but all hope is not lost. The schools were in trouble from the start - maybe this will prove beneficial in the long run. Reconstruction of what is really needed - elimination of what is not. Let's be reasonable here: In other words, only the strong shall survive.

We have to look at things objectively, logically, and head-on. Let us stop fooling ourselves in the education profession as we continue to do. It has become a quick way for non-educator professionals consulting firms, and school administrators, to get rich at the expense of students, teachers, and parents.

All of our government highers-up, politicians, and organized crime bosses simply see it as another means of robbing taxpayers. I have not, nor can I offer any solution to one of the most complex problems we have ever faced in this country: Rebuilding the entire social structure of a large American city (all social institutions, not merely education, have been devistated). I can say however, that unless we change our hearts - collectively - it will be a long hard struggle. Let New Orleans be a lesson to all of us that the schools of early Americana, which promoted decency and true foundations of life, no longer exist in the 21st century.

I THINK THIS IS VERY DIFFICULT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN NEW ORLEANS AND I AM 7 MONTHS PREGNANT MYSELF AND I CAN IMAGINE HOW PEOPLE CAN FEEL!

So much is written about New Orleans and I understand since they were the hardest hit by the hurricanes. How about the people in Mississippi. I work for growing, diverse and well rounded school district (Manteca Unified School District) in California. Our district has adopted Pass Christian School District where 4 out of 5 of their schools were destroyed. Remember those in other areas as well. Thank you.

Hello, I am a Mississippi resident who left Waveland, Mississippi four days after Hurricane Katrina struck our small town and wiped it off the face of the earth. Five months later our school in Hancock County are now open, they opened in November (7th). Classes on Bay St. Louis and Waveland are currently be held in FEMA trailers thankfully provided to us by the Federal Government. It took some time but the system is slowly come back to life. Our lives are going as best as they can. I want to thank Education Weekly for this weeks article on my family and what we have and are going through.

I hope you watch NBC news and see President Bush with Waveland Citys' Mayor Tommy Longo, as the president tours our small bit of MS. The devestation is still there not much has changed many still have not come home but we are trying.

I also want to thank the Arlington Coutny School system for taking my child on September 6th after arriving in this area without any documents to enroll her they took her into the system and accepted the fact that what we had gone through was very tramatic. They minimized all the drama and excessive paperwork that is normally associated with registering a child. My daughter has adjusted well due to her guidence counselor and the school pshycologist. They both played an active part in having my child talk openly about what had happened. Thank you to the Staff and teachers at Kenmore Middle school.


Thanks to Gates Hudson and Associates as well the apartment complex that gave us a place to stay when no one else would. Your generosity and special friendship will never be forgotten. Thank you.

Hello, I am a Mississippi resident who left Waveland, Mississippi four days after Hurricane Katrina struck our small town and wiped it off the face of the earth. Five months later our school in Hancock County are now open, they opened in November (7th). Classes on Bay St. Louis and Waveland are currently be held in FEMA trailers thankfully provided to us by the Federal Government. It took some time but the system is slowly come back to life. Our lives are going as best as they can. I want to thank Education Weekly for this weeks article on my family and what we have and are going through.

I hope you watch NBC news and see President Bush with Waveland Citys' Mayor Tommy Longo, as the president tours our small bit of MS. The devestation is still there not much has changed many still have not come home but we are trying.

I also want to thank the Arlington Coutny School system for taking my child on September 6th after arriving in this area without any documents to enroll her they took her into the system and accepted the fact that what we had gone through was very tramatic. They minimized all the drama and excessive paperwork that is normally associated with registering a child. My daughter has adjusted well due to her guidence counselor and the school pshycologist. They both played an active part in having my child talk openly about what had happened. Thank you to the Staff and teachers at Kenmore Middle school.


Thanks to Gates Hudson and Associates as well the apartment complex that gave us a place to stay when no one else would. Your generosity and special friendship will never be forgotten. Thank you.

I am a teacher whose classroom was in Slidell (one of the hardest hit places in LA) and I lost everything in my classroom. I was transferred to another school, so thankfully I'm still teaching, but the hardest part has been trying to buy everything I need again - from the basics - pens, pencils, paper clips, file folders, you name it. And not to mention the manipulatives and supplies I need for a Transitional First Grade Class!

hi my name is rosary i used to go to alice m harte they said i couldnt go back so now im stuck at the worst school ever livaudais every day i get beat up and talked about by these terrytown girls please let me back in alice m harte please.

hi my name is rosary i used to go to alice m harte they said i couldnt go back so now im stuck at the worst school ever livaudais every day i get beat up and talked about by these terrytown girls please let me back in alice m harte please.

Diagnosing 'mental disorders' is NOT an exact science. That's what makes it dangerous sometimes. I worked with 'autistic' kids in a hospital setting, and the 'Psychiatrist' had intense psychotropic ordered for 'acting out behaviors.' WBR LeoP

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