I teach art in the Robert L. Craig School in Moonachie, New Jersey (pre-school through eighth grade). Moonachie is a small and wonderful community. My students are my world. Sadly, a few days ago, Hurricane Sandy destroyed our world in a matter of minutes. A raging and unexpected flood overtook many of our homes. Within forty-five minutes, the town was covered by five feet of water. The flood wiped out everything they own and destroyed our school.
Our small town was suddenly front-page news. All of the municipal buildings were destroyed beyond repair; the two trailer parks in town suffered horrible flood damage and trees crushed many of the trailers. The children and their families are cold, hungry, and desperate. Many of our teachers are residents of the town, so this has been a double blow. It is heartbreaking and devastating to see what little remains of our town and school. Yet, at a relief shelter today I saw student after student smile as they told me not to worry - they would be all right. Their resilience amazes me and once again the teacher becomes the student.
The children and families of Moonachie struggled to make ends meet before Sandy. Most of my students eat two meals a day at school and live far below the poverty line. With this catastrophe those challenges have become insurmountable. They need our help.
The Red Cross is taking care of basic needs but as an educator – thinking of school starting again at another facility on Monday - I want to focus on making sure they get what they need for school and class. I believe school - a safe, warm place where they can be with their friends and teachers – is going to help them recover mentally. Unfortunately, we will be without our school for the remainder of the year due to the excessive damage. We will most likely be teaching in trailers once we can attain them.
Art has a special place in education and it is amplified in times of crisis. Without our classrooms or any supplies I am worried that my fellow teachers and myself won’t be able to offer the students the creative and healing outlet they will desperately need.
Any donations in the way of art or school materials are badly needed and would be enormously appreciated. Please send donations to;
c/o Lee Ten Hoeve
1012 74 St.
North Bergen, NJ 07047