|NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan visited Union Beach students and staff on their first day at St. Catherine's in Keyport. From left: Blistan, Amie Bentley, Kelly Rooke, Carmella Benigno, UBEA President Tina Brown, UniServ field rep Ron Villano, Arlene Michaels, Kristen Healey. Gallery
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 returned to classes in temporary settings in North Middletown and Keyport with supplies donated by NJEA members across the state. Each teacher received box packed with enough supplies to get a classroom up and running, while each student received 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 packed the boxes and backpacks on Saturday at NJEA’s 180 West State Street headquarters in Trenton.
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.
Grades 1-5 from Union Beach Elementary 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.
NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan visited the elementary school staff and students attending St. Catherine’s on their first day back at school.
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 half a million dollars to jump-start the fund.