Teachers Nationwide Rally to ‘Adopt’ Classrooms Impacted by Harvey


Teachers Nationwide Rally to ‘Adopt’ Classrooms Impacted by Harvey

By Tina Nazerian     Sep 2, 2017

Teachers Nationwide Rally to ‘Adopt’ Classrooms Impacted by Harvey

While Hurricane Harvey was pummeling Houston and nearby cities like Rockport, Marissa Ford felt helpless because she couldn’t do anything for her students. The second grade math and science teacher didn’t know if she was going to have a class to go to, a school to return to.

“There was no escaping this at all,” she said about the devastating hurricane.

Her school, Shadydale Elementary in the Houston Independent School District, did not flood—but the surrounding areas did. Although she had yet to meet her new students, she checked up on several of their families. Some of the parents, she found out, had not been able to work because of the flooding.

“The area that I already service is 100 percent free and reduced lunch,” Ford said. Parents work hourly jobs, “so it’s already a struggle to provide for their kids.” Without work, many parents are “not going to be able to pay their rent, they’re going to be worried about providing for their kids starting school,” she noted. Particularly of concern were school supplies and uniforms.

A colleague tagged Ford in a Facebook group called “Hurricane Harvey Teachers in Need.” She soon found a samaritan: Maggie Lamberth, a 2nd grade teacher at Wallace Elementary in the Richardson Independent School District, “adopted” her classroom, and will be purchasing some necessities for Ford’s students.

“I was picturing if that was me, my heart would be broken for my kids, so that’s why I want to do what I can,” Lamberth explained. Her classroom will also be making and sending cards to Ford’s students.

The group was the brainchild of Lamberth’s colleague, Kori Markussen, and Cat Benoit, a former teacher. Created on August 29, 2017, the group now has more than 1,000 members. Teachers from around the nation, including Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and New Jersey, have offered to “adopt” a classroom by purchasing and sending supplies that their peers affected by Harvey need. Markussen said seeing teachers reaching out to help fellow teachers has been “awesome.”

"I can’t imagine what these people are going through with their homes being completely damaged and having to rebuild that, and then trying to go back to work, and a lot of them are supposed to be going back this week, and going into nothing,” Markussen told EdSurge.

Ford’s school survived the storm relatively unscathed. But others were not so fortunate. Across social media and news outlets, images have circulated of flooded schools. One of the posts in the Facebook group described a school submerged in four feet of water.

Ford said she is “very grateful” that Lamberth chose to help her and her students. She and Lamberth have decided to keep in touch even after help has been sent. Their classrooms will be pen pals this school year.

Seeing teachers from all around the country in that Facebook group wanting to help classrooms affected by Hurricane Harvey made Ford “kind of speechless.”

“For people actually to have empathy and create a huge network of people who want to help, and people who are actually helping instead of just saying that they’re going to help, it’s what the world needs, it’s what America needs.”

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