“We’ll have a therapist here to help our counselor address the needs or anxieties of students, teachers and families,” McMillin said. “In addition to the students’ trauma, some of our teachers are extremely overwhelmed by coming back to school since they spent 17, 18 or 19 years in building their classrooms, suddenly lost it all and are starting over like first-year teachers.”
Teachers’ losses amounted to much more than just classroom decorations and art supplies.
“All my lesson plans — 15 years’ worth — and curriculum training are gone,” Chase said. “Over the years I saved those lesson plans and referred back to them, but all I have now is what’s in my brain. I’ll really be taking it one day at a time and trying to maintain a calm demeanor about it, otherwise we won’t make it through the day.”
Luckily, donations and charity initiatives have responded in force.
McMillin said neighboring Winding Creek Elementary teachers compiled and copied all of their lesson plans to give to Briarwood teachers.
Briarwood Elementary School in Florham Park, N.J., has adopted the Moore school and continues to mail teachers any needs they list on the school’s Facebook page.
“My entire classroom has been taken care of by donations,” Chase said, motioning to bulletin boards and decorations that color her classroom just days after moving in.
“Donors Choose, Adopt-A-Classroom, Norman Public Schools’ loaned furniture and many area churches have taken care of each teacher here very well,” Chase said. “We even had volunteers who moved the furniture and supplies in for us.”
Students have been provided extra special activities and social gatherings throughout the summer, and the school also will receive a new playground on Emmaus Baptist Church’s campus, donated by Kaboom and Nike.
The response from communities worldwide and the resolution of Briarwood staff will keep Briarwood on the path to healing.
“It’s really been amazing to receive so much kindness,” McMillin said.