Thursday, November 22, 2012

Union Beach (part 1)

This week was probably my favorite week of school so far, and not just because it was only 2.5 days.  I  started out writing this post and then realized that it was going to be way too long so I'm going to break it into parts.

If you haven't read it already, this post tells a bit about what I did with my kids the Friday we came back to school after having been off for the past two weeks due to the hurricane.  It made me so happy to hear them talking about wanting to do something to help and I really wanted to come up with something to keep the momentum going.  

The idea of a trip to volunteer had crossed my mind, but I honestly didn't think it would be possible to pull that off, especially being in a new school.  Any trips that I've been involved in have taken a lot of time, effort, money and approval to make happen and I didn't think that it would be possible to have all of that happen within the next week or so.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to at least ask another teacher about the protocol though.  I went to talk to her right after first period that Friday and without getting into too much of the little details...we made it happen.

This past Tuesday, myself and four other teachers took 38 high school kids to volunteer in Union Beach, NJ.  The fact that this ended up happening during the week of Thanksgiving couldn't have been more perfectly planned if I tried.

Things were so last minute that we gave the kids permission slips Thursday and required them to be back Friday...and the kids were so excited that they all (except for 1) came back the next day.  Kids didn't even wait until class to give them to me, they dropped them off first thing in the morning and were stopping me in the hallway if they saw me to hand it in.  They were so excited.

On that Friday, I spend the period talking about Union Beach specifically so that they had an idea of where we were headed.

This is a small town on the water that got hit especially badly for this area.

These are a couple of the things that we talked about that day:

Then on Monday we spent the period getting ready and talking about what was going to happen.  One of the other teachers had the awesome idea to take tons of before-during-after videos and pictures and create a video of the whole trip.

On that Monday my 1st period kids came in talking to each other about how excited they were so I pulled out my iPad and started recording it all.  I also told them that we might have the chance to talk with some homeowners and had them brainstorm what they might say to someone that lost everything.  I so wish I could share the whole video I made of the trip, but it's way too full of kids for that so I'll share some highlights.

This is my first period just talking about the trip:

  • "I'm excited to go because I want to talk to people, I want to know what it felt like because honestly we don't really know."
  • "Even though I lost power and it was cold in my house and had to take cold showers at least I still had a roof over my head.  It made me appreciate what I had because there was other people when the whole storm was happening that had to walk away from their houses not even knowing if they were gonna come back to anything.  It makes you realize you need to appreciate what you have."
  • "The crazy thing is that like a week ago all these kids they had a house, they had a room, they had a tv, house, phone, toys, everything..and now they have nothing."
  • "I don't think I'm excited, it's like that good feeling you have when you help someone."

Then during my 7th period (those were the only two periods I brought of my kids) we did the same.  For that period though, the two other teachers bringing kids and I combined classes and the kids worked together on stuff.  One kid in my class that period is in the film program at our school so he was very into the idea of creating a video and interviewing people.  Another kid is very into music so he worked with some students from the other class to create a rap song about the trip using iPads.

These are some of the ideas they came up with on what they wanted to ask people:

  • "What are some ideas on rebuilding the town?  Like what are YOUR ideas..your personal opinion?"
  • "How long do you think it'll be until you get your house back?"
  • "Where are you staying currently? Are you in a shelter home?"

Since the post is long enough already I'll save the actual trip day for tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Read part 2 here

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