In the wake of New Jersey’s worst natural disaster in decades, NJEA has created a fund to help its members restore classrooms and schools so students can get back to school and back to normal as soon as possible.
The NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund will be used to support member volunteer efforts in New Jersey’s hardest-hit communities and schools. NJEA president Barbara Keshishian issued the following statement:
“We are devastated by the reports we are hearing and the images we are seeing in many of our school districts. While most schools are slowly returning to normal operation, there are dozens and perhaps hundreds of public school buildings across the state that suffered tremendous damage. Some may be able to reopen in coming weeks, but it is becoming clear that others will be out of service for much longer.
“Some students and teachers will be in temporary classrooms. Others will be in new locations. And many who return to their own classrooms will find that almost everything in those classrooms was destroyed. We are confident that districts will do their best to make sure classrooms are safe and well-equipped with things like desks, computers and text books. But it will be up to our members to recreate the warm, welcoming learning environments that existed before the storm.”
“Every year, many of our members spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket buying books, supplies, decorations and other necessities not provided by districts. From the reading rug to the classroom fish tank to decorations for bulletin boards, they work hard to make their classrooms warm and welcoming learning environments for students.”
“And it’s not just classroom teachers who do that. 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.”
“Many of our members have spent a career creating that environment in their work areas, only to see it destroyed overnight. We want to help those members recreate them as quickly as possible, so that when students return to their schools they have not just a classroom but a school home.
“We are reaching out to our members in those districts to find out how we can support them as they work to get back to school in the coming days and weeks. Whether they need classroom items, school supplies for their students or help setting up a new classroom, NJEA and its members are ready to step in and help.”
“This effort will begin immediately, as some damaged schools begin to reopen and others move into temporary facilities. And we expect it to last at least into next year when some schools may still be reopening.
“We were deeply disappointed that it was necessary to cancel this year’s NJEA Convention, which would have started today. 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. We invite our members, our local and county affiliates, other educational organizations, and concerned members of the public to donate as well.
“We are deeply appreciative of organizations like the Red Cross which are doing so much to help New Jersey’s families, including our affected members, recover and rebuild. We have chosen to focus NJEA’s efforts on our area of expertise: creating places where students can learn, grow and thrive.”
Learn more about the NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund.
To donate by check or money order, make payable to "NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund" and mail to:
NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund
P.O. BOX 13407
Philadelphia, PA 19101
NOTE: Donations to the NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund are not tax deductible.