For one HISD family, a new school building to call home

A day before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, Tiffany Irving and her son Grant eagerly delivered school supplies to his kindergarten classroom at Mitchell Elementary, just south of Hobby Airport.

Little did they know then that Grant’s supplies — along with the rest of his building and three other elementary schools across the district — would be destroyed in the coming days as the storm dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on the city.

Unfortunately, the damage wasn’t limited to the school. The Irving’s home just around the corner from the school also flooded.

“When the water started coming in, we knew it was time to go,” Irving said, recalling the aftermath of the storm.

Now a third-grader, Grant returned to the newly reconstructed Mitchell Elementary School on Monday for the first day of in-person learning. For the Irving family, it also marked the beginning of a new one.

Meeting with Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan during a tour of the new campus, Irving noted that staying in the neighborhood and sticking with Mitchell was an easy decision to make.

“We really take care of each other at Mitchell. We did that throughout everything with Harvey, and everything going on now,” Irving said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the school or have been there for years, we take care of our own. There is really a special group of people working here.”

The patience and willingness of families to stay at Mitchell — despite three years at a temporary campus several miles away — was not lost on Lathan.

“We are so grateful to everyone who had to travel to another school for almost three years,” Lathan said. “We’re so glad to finally be back in this community.”

For Grant and his mom, Mitchell feels like home. Grant, who has been at Mitchell since pre-kindergarten, was diagnosed with high-functioning autism during his first year at the school. Irving credits the school and its staff for her son’s maturation, noting that they always have taken good care of him.

 “These kids have been through so much,” Irving said, as she talked about the community her family calls home. “They’ve been through so much the past few years, and to see their excitement over returning to this new building is really great.”