Ocean Acres School Adopts Texas School Following Harvey’s Devastation

Nov 15, 2017

When Hurricane Harvey devastated eastern Texas in late August, many schools in and around Houston were decimated, leaving thousands of students without a place to learn and the supplies needed to do so. And while many from Southern Ocean County responded to help in various ways, Jennifer Lowe, a first-grade teacher at Ocean Acres School in Manahawkin, found a way to involve her class in the effort.

“I saw a post on Facebook with regard to adopting a Texas school, and I jumped all over it,” Lowe said. “There was something like 1,000 classrooms from these schools that needed to be adopted, and they were looking for teachers around the country to get their students involved in helping out.”

Of course, Ocean Acres Principal Susan D’Alessandro typically is not one to go small when it comes to her school’s involvement in anything and implored Lowe to get the entire school on board with the effort to help. So, she did just that.

Connected to Longfellow Elementary School first-grade teacher Sally Griffiths in Houston, Lowe first organized an initial gift-card drive through which Ocean Acres delivered just under $1,300 in gift cards to Longfellow about a month ago. With Amazon, Walmart and Target gift cards in hand, the Longfellow School can utilize them to get more supplies it needs to assist not only the students who already were in the school, but another 50 or so who were displaced from other schools too damaged by flooding to re-open.

“When Sandy hit our area, most of our students were really young, but they were either directly or indirectly impacted,” Lowe said. “So it was easy for them to understand why other kids and schools in Texas were in such desperate need. We were glad to take on the challenge, and it opened up an opportunity for our students to learn in a different way while developing a relationship with students from Texas.”

For the time being, Lowe’s students have become penpals with Griffiths’ students and have learned more about hurricanes, the geography and cultural elements of Texas and the Houston area, as well as some of the economic impact from the natural disaster. Lowe expects that her class, at some point, might take part in a few Skype “meetings” with Griffiths’ class.

“For the students in both schools, this could develop into something much bigger,” Lowe said. “And my students are excited about that opportunity for a relationship with other students from another part of the country, to learn more about them and become friends.”

As for ongoing efforts to help support Longfellow and its students, Ocean Acres School has planned to make Christmas ornaments to send to Texas, and later in the school year will raise additional funds through a “Penny Drive” and its annual Walk-a-Thon, according to Lowe.

“Anytime we have a fundraiser of some kind, our parents and our community come through in big ways,” she said. “We have very generous people in our Ocean Acres School community, and I know a lot of people will get behind this so that we can really help out the students in Texas.”

— David Biggy


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