Teachers awaiting start of school attend trauma training and plan community event

Displaced teachers gathering at Kingdom Builders Center for week of training and collaboration

HISD teachers working at schools with delayed starts are gathering at the Kingdom Builders Center in southwest Houston for a week of planning, collaboration, and learning how to best meet the emotional needs of students affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.

Later in the week, staff from the nearly a dozen campuses will travel to the impacted neighborhoods surrounding their schools for a community event.

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“We are providing our teachers and staff with training on how to help students deal with trauma, and we are giving them time for professional learning and to plan for a community outreach event with their students and families on Thursday,” said Chief Academic Officer Grenita Lathan. “We want to let our students know that we are there for them and are ready to welcome them for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.”

Displaced school staff also are using the time to gather and check on the well-being of their colleagues, many of whom were impacted by Harvey. Staff from the National Organization for Victims Assistance (NOVA) are training the displaced teachers, and over the course of the next few weeks, all teachers will receive training.

“We are a family and we are here for each other,” Key Middle School Principal Joseph Williams told his staff. “Let me know if you or your family needs assistance getting through this. We are here to help. So many of us were affected personally, and we need to lift each other up, as well as our students and families.”

Teachers who are temporarily stationed at Kingdom Builders Center will be able to visit a makeshift media center throughout the week to pick-up classroom supplies and materials to decorate their classrooms and bulletin boards.

“Many of our teachers are returning to a classroom that was affected by Harvey — or even to a totally new or makeshift classroom,” Academic Support Services Director Melanie Evans-Smith said. “We wanted to provide them with all the supplies needed to make them and their students feel at home.”

Evans-Smith and the Office of Academics worked over the weekend to prepare training and learning for the displaced teachers. Many campuses are scheduled to start school later this week, with several set to open Monday, Sept. 18.

Parents and staff are encouraged to check the district’s school opening database, which is updated daily.