It's hard to believe we are almost to spring break and the end of the 3rd quarter. This year is flying by and before we know it we will be at the end of the year. I would like to applaud all of the students and our team who are working so hard. Testing season is just around the corner so this preparation is extremely important. I would like to share information about an opportunity I recently had to go to Victoria, Texas and work with schools and superintendents affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Hello Wildcat Nation!
It’s hard to believe we are almost to spring break and the end of the 3rd quarter. This year is flying by and before we know it we will be at the end of the year. I would like to applaud all of the students and our team who are working so hard. Testing season is just around the corner so this preparation is extremely important. I would like to share information about an opportunity I recently had to go to Victoria, Texas and work with schools and superintendents affected by Hurricane Harvey.
A few months ago I was approached by a consultant with FEMA who is in charge of recovery efforts for schools affected by Hurricane Harvey. The purpose of the recovery project was to bring superintendents from across the country to Texas to work with and mentor superintendents and administrators in Texas. I was blessed to be in a group with superintendents from Moore, Oklahoma; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Long Island, New York; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Joplin, Missouri; and two from Kansas. The one thing we all had in common was we had some form of major tragedy in our school districts. Whether it was a devastating tornado or hurricane, we all experienced some type of loss. I had the opportunity to share about the tornado that destroyed Goodman Elementary on April 4, 2017. I explained the process we went through not only the night of the tornado, but also the days following and even now as we approach the one year anniversary.
Many in the group talked about working with FEMA to get money to rebuild their schools and communities, so in contrast I was able spend time working with them and sharing what to do when FEMA isn’t able to provide assistance. I was able to share advice on what to look for in your insurance policies and how to fight for everything you are owed as a district. It was amazing to see how many of them really didn’t know how to approach this. It felt really good to help people in ways that many others helped me with, it was definitely nice to pay it forward. One of the areas many of them were searching for was how their communities could help and where they could find help. I spent time discussing with them Bright Futures and how this is a basis for our community to support our students and parents in helping to meet their basic needs. The attendees were very intrigued about this and how it works so I was able to connect them with Bright Futures USA and give kudos to Bright Futures Neosho. In the near future Bright Futures will be working with schools in South Texas to establish programs like this in their communities.
We also had the opportunity to spend time working with mental health professionals during the workshops. It was very interesting to listen and learn from them about how tragedies of this nature affect people not only in the moment and immediately following, but also years down the road. We learned that this type of trauma affects students and adults but not in the same way or in the same time frame. They gave all in attendance many tools to not only recognize what is going on but also tools to address and help people work through it.
It was a blessing to be a part of this project and I look forward to being able to mentor and work with my new friends and colleagues from across the United States. We are doing many great things in Neosho for our students and it was an honor to share them.
Have a GREAT week!
Dan Decker is the superintendent of the Neosho Schools and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.