Hurricane Katrina resulted in the displacement of approximately 372,000 students. Many schools and districts across the country are opening their doors to these students and helping restore a sense of normalcy in their lives. To assist families and schools in this time of need, the Department of Education is proposing up to $2.6 billion in funding for elementary, secondary and post secondary relief. Today’s Extra Credit highlights schools that are welcoming displaced students with open arms. The following are excerpts from an article on the Houston Independent School District’s website highlighting Pin Oak Middle School:
"To learn more about what HISD is doing to help thousands of students displaced by Hurricane Katrina to continue their education, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings came to Houston Friday, September 16, to confer with Superintendent of Schools Abelardo Saavedra, the superintendents of other Harris County school systems, Region IV Education Service Center Executive Director Bill McKinney, a group of HISD teachers, and representatives of the Harris County Department of Education. She also visited Pin Oak Middle School, to see how HISD is serving the more than 50 evacuated students enrolled there."
"Pin Oak Middle School went to extraordinary lengths to make its newest students feel welcome and secure and to help their families adjust to their current situation. ‘It was important that we make sure that every single one of those children feels welcome here and feels that they belong here,’ Principal Michael McDonough said. ‘We can only imagine what they must have gone through in Louisiana. It's our job to make sure that what they get from us is comfort and warmth, and a sense of belonging.’
"When the evacuees enrolled at Pin Oak, McDonough personally made the schedule for each student after meeting with them individually to determine their special needs and interests. The school's social worker, Alyson Bricker, also spoke with the students' families about their needs and concerns. The Pin Oak evacuees were given a tour of the campus, and a regular Pin Oak student was assigned to every evacuee to serve as a ‘buddy’ and help them join the pin Oak family. Each student was also issued a locker and received a picture identification badge. The evacuees and their families, most of whom are staying with family and friends in the area, were then escorted to the library where Pin Oak officials had set up a clothing drive. The families were encouraged to look through the donations for any items needed. In addition, each student was given a student planner and a new blue Pin Oak polo shirt, a white Pin Oak polo shirt, and a Pin Oak ‘spirit’ shirt that can be worn on Fridays. The school’s PTO donated the school shirts.
"Pin Oak’s student body has been as welcoming and caring as the faculty, staff, and community, McDonough said. ‘Our students have come to us and offered to share lockers and books with our new students. Many of the evacuees were here when we had our first pep rally September 2, and each grade level welcomed them. They have been embraced, they have been treated with dignity and compassion, and they have been allowed to begin to resume their lives in a warm, comfortable, safe environment. For a lack of better words, we have been able to allow them to be kids again—to blend in with new friends and continue to learn.’"
For more information about the Department of Education’s funding proposal for assisting families and schools affected by the hurricane and for information on how you can help schools in need, please visit: http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/index.html .
About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.
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