AKRON — Empathy, compassion, geography and writing. Those are some of the lessons first grade teachers at Akron Elementary School hope their students will learn by adopting a classroom in Texas at a school that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
Students in Hayley Cooper and Rhonda Jewell’s classrooms are collecting basic school supplies from now through Oct. 12 to send to a third grade classroom at Harmony School of Science in Houston. “This is the third time in less than three years this particular class has flooded,” said Cooper. “There’s not a whole lot we can do, but every little bit will help.”
Cooper got the idea to collect school supplies for the classroom from a teacher’s blog she follows on social media. The teacher was organizing a community service project in which other teachers across the country could sign up and adopt classrooms in Texas. “It took a couple of weeks to set up because there were so many teachers wanting to help out,” explained Cooper.
Students decorated a collection box for the supplies and a letter explaining the donation drive was sent home to parents. Cooper and Jewell are asking for pencils, crayons, markers, notebooks, folders, erasers, new or gently-used books of any level, tissues, stickers and other basic classroom items. The students will also write letters of encouragement to send with the supplies.
“We teach our students about kindness and what it means to be kind to others. I just love how the teachers and students are excited to show kindness to complete strangers,” said Chrissy Mills, principal at Akron Elementary School.
Cooper also incorporated geography into her lesson plan by showing students on a map where Texas is and where
Hurricane Harvey and hurricanes since have hit. She used a series of elementary-level videos that explained what a hurricane is and how people stay safe during the storm. “A lot of the kids asked why it happened and if it happened more than once. There were students that were shaken up,” she said.
Jewell recalled a time when she was student teaching at Riddle Elementary School in 1974 and a tornado swept through the Rochester community and surrounding areas. She hopes her students will understand material possessions can be replaced over time and that helping out others when there is a need is important.
“I will never forget how we felt walking into our classrooms and seeing the devastation that had taken place,” said Jewell. “It made a big impression on me when others helped us come together and get back on our feet. It’s the right thing to do.”
Supplies can be dropped off between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at Akron Elementary School located at 202 E. Rural St.