On Disasters, Compassion, and Taking Action

Calling all #teacherchangemakers! Hurricane Harvey has devastated homes, schools, businesses, and more with flooding and wind damage. Today I'm sharing a multitude of tangible ways you can help teachers, classrooms, and schools affected by the storm.

I'm sure you've heard and seen the news, so I won't go in to detail except to say, I am calling on you to TAKE SOME FORM OF ACTION to help fellow teachers and students in need. 

During times of tragedy and devastation, we can often feel so overwhelmed that we don't know how to act. 

Truthfully, in our minds, we know we can't help everyone, and there will soon be another disaster or tragedy that pulls at our heartstrings.

So, often we just don't take action.

I am guilty of this. I have compassionate feelings #allthetime. I have inspiring ideas for helping others every time I am fortunate enough to be in tune with my emotions and my sense of empathy. 

And then I get busy, something else gets my attention, and I don't act. 

I'm trying not to do that with Hurricane Harvey and

I'm making it a point to not sit paralyzed by inaction when things happen in the future.

In the past week, it has helped me to think about compassion and ask myself, "What would I want someone to do for me if I were in this position?"

I can think of a few short things.

  • It would console me to know that I'm not alone.

  • It would help me to know that someone was trying to help me.

  • My job of teaching children would not feel so overwhelming if I knew I had someone to call on (that wasn't in the same situation as me) that is working to help me fill my needs.

Many of you know that I'm not currently in the classroom. I'm unable to use the 20+ little #changemakers in my own classroom to adopt a classroom or launch a school wide service learning effort, but again, I know I can still do a lot. 

Here's what I'm doing:

  • I've compiled the efforts for helping teachers affected by Harvey into a google doc. You can access that here.

  • I've messaged and emailed teachers in my circle to provide them with information on how to sponsor classrooms. At least three teachers at three different schools have taken me up on my offer to send information to them.

  • I'm attempting to get my daughter's school to sponsor a school or classroom.

  • I've reached out to neighbors and asked them if their youth groups would like to sponsor a classroom.

  • I am personally sponsoring a 4th grade classroom in Texas.

  • I've donated to a Go Fund Me launched by Dawn Vinas of Social Studies Success. (This was the first thing I did while I was overwhelmed with compassion. Isn't just donating a bit of cash the first way many of us respond in times of need?)

From Dawn's Go Fund Me info: 

"In addition to the basic necessities, teachers will need to be able to support their students with educational materials - books, classroom supplies, clothing for students, and necessities they can take to their shelter. The funds raised will go directly to teachers in affected of Houston. These districts include Alief ISD, Aldine ISD, Galena Park ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Sheldon ISD, Dickinson ISD, Clear Creek ISD, Pearland ISD and Klein ISD."

What can you do? 

  • Approach your principal about sponsoring a school. I think a beautiful way for a school to sponsor a school would be to match teachers to teachers (at the same grade level) and allow students to develop a relationship with one another all year.

  • If your principal is not up for a school-wide effort, start with your classroom or your grade level. Pass on information to other teachers that you think would like to sponsor a classroom and make it a grass-roots effort.

  • Teachers know teachers at other schools. Reach out to your other teacher friends and pass along information to them. They may be eager to help but just don't know how.

We hope that those who make connections with classroom teachers try to do more than a one-time effort as the needs will be great all year. One idea is to mark your calendar for the same date each month to remind yourself to send something (cards, gift cards, supplies, check in, etc) on that date.

While even sponsoring a classroom may seem overwhelming, I'm coming from a place of abundance and I believe that I will have the means to help my adopted teacher with what she needs.

I know I can reach out again to neighbors, family, and friends to assist me with helping. 

People are often eager to help when they know someone's story. TRULY, I BELIEVE THAT MOST PEOPLE WANT TO HELP. It just seems too overwhelming to know where to start and then we move on with our lives.


To end today, I want to share an excerpt from Love, Teach who is from Houston. She wrote about her experiences in this blog post

On Harvey and Helping

"Imagine that for four days in a row, the text thread you wake up to is one in which you and your friends and family are checking on each other to see whose homes have water inside them, who needs help. And when someone doesn’t respond on the text thread, it is no longer absurd to assume something terrible has happened, because something terrible is happening.

Imagine seeing videos posted by nationally syndicated news organizations featuring people from your hometown. These are people that you passed in the halls of your high school, being interviewed by camera crews as they drive their boats down the middle of streets where you grew up searching for those who need rescue, the wake of their boat lapping up onto rooftops.

Imagine people you love spending the night in lines of cots in middle school gyms and cafeterias, churches, the inside of a furniture store. Imagine not being able to get them.

Imagine that during all of this, it’s still raining, and that it will be raining for another three days."

I truly can't imagine this. I'm copying a list of ways to help from her post. I hope you will find a way to rally your students and your schools to do something to make a difference for those affected by the storm.

If YOU are a teacher affected by the storm, please use any of these links to add your name to a list to be adopted.

Myself and other teachers are seeking ways to help you!

Links on how to help/donate:

Adopt a Texas Classroom: info and link to a Google Doc to be directly matched with a teacher needing donations post-Harvey

Bear Creek Elementary Amazon Wish List: needs for students affected by Harvey at Bear Creek Elementary in Katy ISD

Cardiff Junior High Amazon Wish List: needs for students affected by Harvey at Cardiff Junior High in Katy ISD (Ship to: Cardiff Junior High, 3900 Dayflower Dr., Katy TX 77449)

Dickinson Education Foundation Needs: Dickinson ISD

The Galloway School: School in Friendswood, TX that flooded and has no insurance

Flood of Friendship: Gift cards for teachers in flooded areas

Houston ISD Supplies/Donation Fund: Houston ISD

How to Donate to Friendswood, TX: Facebook group with links to GoFundMe accounts, Amazon Wish Lists, local organizations, and and individuals coordinating with displaced families

Hurricane Harvey Teachers In Need: Facebook group for Houston teachers to post needs OR teachers who want to help to be matched with a teacher in need

LSA Hurricane Relief fund: fund to help restore school featured in the image at the top of this post

Mayde Creek High School Amazon Wish List: Katy ISD

Mayde Creek Junior High Amazon Wish List: Katy ISD

Pearland ISD: Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5, you can drop off or mail gift card donations at the Virgil Gant Education Support Center (1928 N. Main, Pearland, TX, 77581). For more information, please contact Communications Coordinator Lexi Marshall.

South Houston Intermediate Amazon Wish List: Pasadena ISD

Spring Branch Pledgecents: supporting Spring Branch ISD families affected by Harvey

Teacher Harvey Relief: an individual I know personally who is coordinating with HISD and Cy-Fair teachers who are displaced or have damaged homes

Links for teachers (or anyone) who might need help repairing/restocking homes or classrooms:

Adopt a Texas Classroom: info and link to fill out a form to receive help from those wanting to be matched with a teacher

Hurricane Harvey Teachers In Need: teachers can post needs to be matched with other classrooms across the country

Mormon Helpings Hands Hurricane Harvey Recovery: Call hotline to submit work order (800) 451-1954 or (844) 965-1386. These folks are amazing, y'all. You don't have to be Mormon! :)

Teacher Harvey Relief: an individual I know personally who is coordinating with HISD and Cy-Fair teachers who are displaced or have damaged homes