When Hurricane Sandy leveled Union Beach in Monmouth County, the town’s middle school was flooded in four feet of water and debris. It may reopen prior to Christmas.
But on Monday, Nov. 19, the school’s 75 teachers and 500 of its 720 students will return to classes in temporary settings in North Middletown and Keyport with supplies donated by NJEA members across the state.
Each teacher will get a box packed with enough supplies to get a classroom up and running, while each student will receive a backpack filled with personal school supplies, all courtesy of the NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund.
NJEA staff and volunteer NJEA members from Monmouth County will be packing the boxes and backpacks on Saturday at NJEA’s 180 West State Street headquarters in Trenton. That operation will be conducted between 10 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The materials will then be driven to Monmouth County for distribution on Monday morning.
Hundreds of Union Beach students were scattered to shelters and other locations by the storm, and teachers have been successful in locating 500 of them. The whereabouts of another 220 are still unknown.
Grades 1-5 from Union Beach Middle School will temporarily attend classes in the former St. Catherine’s school in North Middletown; students in grades 6-8 will be housed in Keyport at the town’s middle and high schools.
Last week, NJEA announced the NJEA Hurricane Sandy Back to School Fund, which will be used to support member volunteer efforts in New Jersey’s hardest-hit communities and schools. Its initial focus is on helping teachers and students get the supplies and materials they need to return to class after days or weeks of cancellations. Up next will be the task of identifying continuing needs of displaced teachers and students, and matching those needs with NJEA member and community volunteers who can help.
NJEA has contributed $500,000 to jump-start the fund, and contributions are being encouraged on NJEA.org, the NJEA website.
In addition, NJEA continues to provide crisis counseling resources to NJEA members through AID-NJEA, a free, confidential 24-hour telephone helpline for school staff members and their families. The helpline is staffed by active and retired educators and school counselors who are trained to counsel and support their colleagues. The program provides telephone support, information and resources for school employees experiencing some distress in their work or personal lives.
Read more about NJEA's Hurricane Sandy Back to School Effort.