Flooded with love, a Louisiana Teacher’s cry for help

It’s been 12 days since I’ve seen my students. No, we are not on vacation or a holiday break, we have been impacted by a major flood. Many of our schools are flooded along with 75% of the families here in Livingston parish. A large amount of our teachers have lost both their homes and their classrooms. I have been self-diagnosed with what one would call “survivor’s guilt”. My two homes (house and classroom) did not flood. I almost feel unfortunate to be fortunate. I have made a relentless effort to spend the last 12 days helping south Louisiana with it’s efforts to rebuild. It has been so difficult just to witness all the pain and suffering that my family, neighbors, colleagues, and community are experiencing, I can’t imagine the type of anguish that weighs heavy on them.  I’m naturally a soft-hearted person to those in distress. I just want to take their pain away. All of it.

To say I miss my students is an understatement. I need to see them. I need to tell them so much. I want to tell them just how much they were missed. How lonely my classroom is without them. How incredible our community is to come together when devastation strikes. How much of an opportunity their generation has to make a difference. How I was lucky enough to volunteer along side many of their parents and other teachers. How our school districts will gladly jump through hoops just to meet their needs. How much they are supported by people from all over the nation. How other schools have stepped up to foster the needs of the schools in our parish. How much they have been in our thoughts and prayers. How much we value them and their education. How PROUD I am to be a teacher in Albany, Louisiana, their teacher!

As a voice for all students in our great state, I am asking for two things. First, I am asking for all community members such as doctors, lawyers, educators, bankers, police officers, city and state officials, all stakeholders, this CALL FOR COMPASSION knows no limits, to give back to the community that we love most. We desperately need kindred hearts to facilitate our efforts in meeting our students needs. Sadly, many of our students have lost their book sacks and school supplies to the strong current of the flood waters. It is our job to lend a hand when people are suffering. It’s our job to step up and reach out to any and everyone that will listen. My second request is for any school system that was not been affected by the flood waters, will you be so kind as to ‘adopt a school’. I am looking for schools that would be willing to raise funds to help get our schools back on their feet. Some examples would include a free dress day, homeroom donation competitions, supply drive, etc. Please do not hesitate to email me with any questions joni.smith@lpsb.org.

I believe the best way to teach students to be good members of society is to lead by example. Will you help lead?

If so, please join me in these efforts to help the students of southeast Louisiana by visiting assesstheneed.com and giving a love offering of $10. Help us flood our students with love!  Assess the Need is an NON-PROFIT organization and  ALL proceeds are dispersed to those students in highest need. Your donation is 100% transferable to a student in need of school supplies.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Joni Smith

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