Shortly after becoming executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, I faced a truly unconventional situation. Days after taking the helm of NJSBA, Hurricane Sandy was preparing to make landfall in New Jersey. One of my first official duties was to close the headquarters office because of the storm. But the story did not end there.
As a district superintendent for 32 years, I dealt with my share of weather emergencies. But none of them matched the “superstorm” that struck our state in late October 2012—the flooding, the long-term power outages, and the damage to school facilities.
We did not anticipate a storm of this magnitude. Nor did we expect the outreach of sympathy and support from our board of education colleagues, teachers and schoolchildren throughout the nation, and especially from regions we thought would be least able to help. After NJSBA established a “Hurricane Help Hotline” to help direct contributions of equipment and funds to school districts impacted by Sandy, we heard from folks in the Gulf Coast states who had been hit hard by Katrina and people from the heartland who have suffered the effects of destructive tornadoes. They wanted to help New Jersey schools and students through fundraising and donations of equipment and supplies.
Now it’s our turn.
Since the start of the month, the news out of South Carolina has painted a picture of devastating floods, resulting in lost lives, lost homes, and lost services, including schools. New Jersey’s local education foundations and parent and student organizations should consider service efforts aimed at helping students and school districts affected by the floods in South Carolina.
On Monday, I received the following message from an official of the South Carolina School Boards Association:
A special statewide monetary fund has been established by the South Carolina School Boards Association and SC Future Minds to assist students in school districts displaced by the historic flooding in South Carolina. Schools looking for ways to help their fellow schools in the 16 SC counties declared as disaster areas, which have suffered significant damage and loss, can visit www.floodreliefforscschools.org for more information or to donate, or can text “SCSchools” to 71777. SC Future Minds is the only 501(c)3 non-profit that organizes private support for the state’s public K-12 public schools
The funds, which will be divided among the school districts, will be used for school-related supplies and programs targeting affected students and could include purchasing school supplies, assisting with after school programs, or providing a program offering food in backpacks to take home, etc.
Just as our colleagues stepped up for New Jersey’s schools and students after Sandy, please consider helping the students of South Carolina who suffered during this month’s devastating floods.
These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours. Contact me at [email protected].
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