While most of Freehold has returned back to normal in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Freehold Borough School staff has realized that for many students, families, and teachers, normalcy is still far away.
The following passage comes from Park Avenue Elementary School Principal Shauna Schubiger, and gives a recap of how her staff has stepped up to help others affected by Hurricane Sandy.
As we all attempt to return to a new state of normalcy in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we have no choice but to reflect on the unprecedented amount of devastation and damage left in her path. As an elementary principal, part of returning back to “normal” was welcoming close to 600 smiling faces back to school. For many of my students, Sandy meant an inconveniently long time without power, as they were lucky to escape, unscathed for the most part. Students in other schools nearby, however, were not so lucky.
We now find ourselves in a period of time in which we are all still asking, “How can we help?” For the teachers in the Freehold Borough School District, the answer came quickly and the response needed to be even faster. Truly the most amazing moment for me to witness thus far, as principal of Park Avenue Elementary School, was the huge effort exerted by our teaching staff. It was then that teachers from all three of our schools in Freehold Borough banded together to collect teaching supplies for the staff and students displaced from Sandy in Seaside Park. In a mere three days, our teachers organized a massive effort that included the collecting, packing, and delivering of over 25 boxes of grade-level and general supplies. These supplies, purchased individually over the years by all of our teachers were dropped off to at Central Regional High School, the new temporary location of Seaside Park Elementary. Needless to say, their staff was thrilled!
The generosity of our staff has not stopped with providing aid to staff and students in Seaside Park. Just this week, our Freehold Borough Education Association kicked off an effort to collect donations for staff and students in Keansburg. As part of their efforts to support the community and promote good deeds, the FBEA has partnered up with the Keansburg community to help them recover from Hurricane Sandy. They are asking our Freehold Borough families to contribute to a collection in which the proceeds will go to Keansburg Helping Hands, to help provide for the families in Keansburg in need. This includes both monetary and gift card donations. The collection will last for ten school days (from December 3rd through the 14th).
I have been part of the Park Avenue school community for the past year and a half, and during this time I have witnessed incredible acts of generosity and kindness on the part of our staff that I have never seen before in another school district. In fact, at times, they have rendered me speechless. The teachers that comprise the Freehold Borough school district are truly amazing in all that they do. So much so, that I must recognize these efforts that have gone unnoticed, but certainly not unappreciated, for many years.
Each school year begins with the same type of events, and our staff never seems to tire from assisting those that need it. During the summer we organize a backpack and school supply drive for students entering school in September. Each August, we give away hundreds of backpacks filled with folders, pencils, markers, crayons, notebooks, etc. to ensure students begin their school year “equipped” with the appropriate tools. As Fall approaches, our Park Avenue teachers are able to provide slightly used Halloween costumes to students that may not otherwise be able to participate in this holiday. Next, working closely with our school nurse Sue
Scalgione, staff assists in creating Thanksgiving baskets for over forty families that need assistance during this holiday time. With barely a moment of down time, they immediately get started on putting together a list of families that could also use assistance in purchasing holiday gifts for their children. Once the list is compiled, District staff “adopt” a family for the holidays. Together, they purchase, organize, and wrap hundreds of presents for our students and their families.
As we all prepare for the upcoming Holiday season, many of us ask ourselves how we can assist those less fortunate. For the teachers in Freehold Borough, this effort lasts the entire year and benefits more people than they will ever realize.