It was late on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 15 when the members of the West Orange Education Association (WOEA) realized that the snow storm predicted to coat the area would be much worse. The rolling hills of West Orange are notoriously difficult to navigate during bouts of severe weather.
With student safety in mind, the West Orange School District made the decision to keep the students overnight; the members of the WOEA didn’t think twice about staying to help the children.
As soon as the members of the WOEA knew that the students would be staying overnight, they took action to help the students remain comfortable, calm and safe throughout the unexpectedly long stay at school.
“Our members went from their normal state of nurturing to wiping tears and tucking kids in and making sure that children felt safe not staying at home last night,” said Mark Maniscalco, president of the WOEA.
All members of the WOEA joined together to help the children. Children stayed overnight at every district school, with more than 300 students staying at the Liberty Middle School. Because the cafeteria staff had left after lunch for the day and could not return due to the storm, WOEA members cooked dinner for the children in the cafeteria, and they rolled out mats from the gym so children could sleep comfortably.
“It was a complete team effort,” said Maniscalco “Teachers, secretaries, instructional aides and security officers all stayed with the children through the night. We had fully-staffed schools for more than 24 hours.”
NJEA President Marie Blistan praised the more than 1,000 members of the WOEA for their sacrifice on behalf of their students.
“Last night, the members of the of West Orange Education Association demonstrated the true spirit of public education” said Blistan. “The WOEA stayed with their students through the night without hesitation because that’s what educators do: what’s best for children. The sheer selflessness displayed by the teachers and educational support professionals of the WOEA is nothing short of inspirational.”
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