Like others who have seen the devastation in New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, NJEA members are asking how they can help. As educators, we want to make sure that students get back to school, and back to normal, as soon as possible. The damage to many schools makes that a real challenge, but together we can make it a reality.
The NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund will help our members replace and rebuild the learning environments our students need.
While districts must get schools up and running, it will require NJEA members to make them inviting and welcoming places for learning. This year, in some schools, what they have created over a career has been lost.
“Every year, many of our members spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket buying books, supplies, decorations and other necessities not provided by districts,” noted NJEA President Barbara Keshishian. “From the reading rug to the classroom fish tank to decorations for bulletin boards, teachers work hard to make their classrooms warm and welcoming learning environments for students.
“And it’s not just classroom teachers who do that,” Keshishian continued. “Everywhere students are in our schools, from the hallways to the attendance office to the cafeteria and library, you can see the extra effort that all school employees put into transforming a building into a learning environment.”
Through donations of money, materials and time, NJEA and its members will help our hardest-hit schools and communities rebuild, whether they need classroom items, school supplies for their students or help in setting up a new classroom. Through the Back to School fund, we will:
- Identify areas of greatest need.
- Coordinate NJEA member, local affiliate, and community donations – both financial and material -- to ensure the resources go where they are most needed and beneficial.
- Coordinate NJEA member volunteers from around the state to work in affected districts to get buildings and classrooms ready to welcome students.
- Provide additional financial resources to allow members to replace educational materials that were lost when school buildings were damaged by the storms, particularly those items that are unlikely to be replaced by the district – i.e., items that members themselves originally provided.
- Provide resources to help students who need school supplies in order to get back to learning as soon as possible.
- Help to ensure that the entire school building and all educational programs are prepared to welcome and serve students.
- Provide whatever other support we can to ensure that students return to a safe, welcoming learning environment as soon as possible.
Money that was to be spent on convention given to fund
Perhaps the largest donation to the fund will come from NJEA, as money that would have been spent on the annual convention in Atlantic City will now be contributed to the fund.
“We were deeply disappointed that it was necessary to cancel this year’s NJEA Convention,” explained Keshishian. “But we are proud to announce that money we did not spend on this year’s Convention will now be directed to this effort. While we are still determining how much we are able to contribute, I will be asking our governing bodies to approve a contribution of at least $500,000 to support this effort.”
NJEA has also invited local and county affiliates, other educational organizations, and concerned members of the public to donate to the fund.
How can you join in NJEA’s efforts?
NJEA members wishing to contribute to the fund should send their donations (check or money order) to: NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund, P.O. BOX 13407, Philadelphia, PA 19101.
Please note: donations to the NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund are not tax deductible.
Opportunities for individuals and local associations to help with specific projects are being developed. Members should contact their association rep for more information.