DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — A mad dash is underway to get new classrooms ready for thousands of students displaced from tornado-damaged schools in Dallas.
Three campuses that were in the hardest hit areas were Walnut Hill Elementary, Cary Middle and Thomas Jefferson High — they are all facing long-term relocations.
On Tuesday, teachers from Thomas Jefferson gathered to go door-to-door at apartment complexes nearby, eager to limit the school’s losses to the structure.
NeNeh Abbey, a teacher at Thomas Jefferson, said she still can’t believe what has happened.
“I’m at a loss for words… this really just breaks my heart, that this is another thing that they’re having to go through,” Abbey said.
So, Abbey is determined in her search of her high school students.
“That’s all I can say. I am here,” she said. “Whatever it is that you need: food, water… I’m still here to help with homework, class assignments, whatever… the basic necessities to get you back on your feet and be the amazing students that I know you can be.”
With Thomas Jefferson most likely a total loss, students will finish the school year at the old Edison Middle School in West Dallas. The building had been used for training; but, is quickly being repurposed. Part of the door to door effort is to reach and encourage students to continue coming to class.
“Honestly, it’s been really bad cause there hasn’t been no power and I need my laptop to do my homework,” says junior Jaquelin Castaneda, “So that’s kind of bad, and catch up with homework a lot.”
Still, Castaneda admits that it feels good to see teachers putting forth such effort to check on students.
“It makes me feel so happy that they care about us, making sure we’re okay,” she said.
Thomas Jefferson students are not alone in facing a post tornado shuffle.
Students from Walnut Hill Elementary will relocate to Tom Field on Wednesday morning and students at Cary Middle will be split between Franklin and Medrano middle schools.
Three other schools left with less extensive damage — Burnet, Cigarroa and Pershing Elementary — will temporarily relocate to the Alfred Loos Field House for classes.
Throughout the district, there is an air of both gratitude and frenzied preparation to help students return to new campuses… but also to a sense of normalcy.
DISD Spokesperson Robyn Harris said the teachers are excited to come back and welcome their kids.
“We recognize this has really been a devastating event… they just want to wrap their arms about their kiddos,” Harris said.
While needs are still being determined, monetary donations are currently being accepted by the Dallas Education Foundation.
Fundraisers and an Amazon wish list for the schools are listed here: