Through a bit of research, I found Kolter Elementary, a school in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) with a similar program and community to FLAIM: Kolter is a public immersion magnet school with French, Spanish and Mandarin tracks that serves a student population very similar to ours. You can learn more about Kolter here and by visiting @KolterPTO on Facebook. I've been in contact with the principal, Mrs. Dickinson, and she recently learned that their building suffered significant damage, and they won't be able to return for the foreseeable future. Instead, they'll be housed at a vacant building while repairs are underway, which means that the teachers and student will be starting with little to nothing by way of instructional resources and supplies. Not exactly the warmest and most nurturing environment for elementary school students still recovering from the trauma of a flood.
In terms of the most pressing need, Principal Dickinson is asking for gift cards that her faculty and staff can use to purchase much-needed supplies and materials. Of course, teachers may have trouble getting to certain stores and the stores themselves may have limited inventories given the needs across Houston, so I would encourage gift cards to stores with an online presence such as Amazon, Office Depot, Target and Lakeshore Learning. You can also donate to the Kolter PTO page - donations will go towards immediate needs related to getting the school up and running as fast as possible and helping their teachers re-stock classrooms, replace things that the district’s insurance is unable to cover, and to cover costs associated with any efforts to bring a sense of normalcy to the children as soon as possible.
Thinking in particular about the kids who will be returning to a vacant and unfamiliar building, I also think it would be great if we could get our own kiddos involved by creating notes for the students and encouraging pictures for the teachers to use to decorate their rooms until they can have something more permanent.. Our kiddos can even include messages in their FLAIM language since Kolter has the same three tracks!
Donations will be collected at the front office at school, but please clearly mark any donations as 'Kolter Relief Fund.' I will pick up the donations at least twice a week and hope to send our first care package next Tuesday.
I'll be in touch again after Principal Dickinson is able to better assess the needs of Kolter students and families. HISD schools are set to start next Monday, but Kolter may be delayed beyond that depending on the state of the building that they'll be using. I'm guessing that when students do return, Principal Dickinson may be able to send us a list of items that are needed beyond classroom supplies.
Please let me know if you have any questions or additional suggestions for partnering with Kolter and supporting our friends in Houston.
(mom of Alice, Kindergarten French)