Devastation of Hurricane Maria to the island of Puerto Rico
I’m certain all of us have seen the immense devastation that occurred throughout the island of Puerto Rico as a result of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Knowing how fragile the economy and the educational system were prior to these natural disasters, the recent hurricanes were just too much for communities to bear. The devastation was far worse than predicted and for most people, it’s beyond their imagination. Seven months after the hurricanes, electricity is still not reliable in most communities and many public schools continue to have significant infrastructure and basic service challenges that negatively affect students.
As a public school superintendent, I feel compelled to assist our fellow American citizens as we have done so for many others impacted by natural disasters on the mainland of America. I have been working with a school in the town of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. The name of the school is Rafael de Jesus, it is a public elementary school of 350 students many of which come from significant poverty.
I had the opportunity to visit the school in February and talk with the staff about what they need to provide a basic education to the children of Rio Grande. I heard nearly unbelievable stories from the teachers describing classrooms that are not useable when it rains because the roof leaks. Students are moved to corners of the classroom so as not to get wet, but as you can imagine, their learning has been and continues to be significantly interrupted. The school’s limited computer center, must cover their computers with plastic bags so they are not damaged from water of the leaking roof. Certainly, these conditions are foreign to our public schools in America, yet in Puerto Rico, an American territory, they’re unfortunately fairly common.
I am currently planning an assistance trip to Puerto Rico this summer (June/July 2018). I have formed a group of educational leaders (8 -10) from Lake County, IL to assist Rafael de Jesus recover from the damages of hurricanes Irma and Maria. We plan to improve the learning environment by painting classrooms/hallways and areas of need, but before we can do that the roof must be repaired; Above All, a Good Roof. I estimate the roof repair will be $20,000. Please consider supporting this project by contributing any amount to our Gofundme page. All contributions are greatly appreciated.
Community High School District 117
- Scott McKay
- Ellen Smith
- Frances Satos
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