Restoring And Returning
After Sandy struck, Martin De Porres High School, like most of the other schools on the Peninsula, needed to relocate. The Administrative Team led by Dr. Edward Dana, Executive Director; Mr. Eon Parks, Assistant Executive Director; and Mrs. Jo’ Anne Brancato, Principal went into action. The Team met and decided to relocate the high school temporarily to a school building in Rosedale. It would be a tight fit for the number of students enrolled, but at least the entire student body and staff would be together.
The process of cleaning and restoration began immediately after the storm. While the building on Rockaway Beach Boulevard was undergoing a major construction project, the school continued to educate the youngsters in its care.
A different kind of education was necessary in the aftermath of Sandy. The students needed to know that they were wel-comed back to school, that they were safe, and that they would be taught. The storm necessitated a great deal of healing and a fresh approach to academics.
Small classes were combined, and teachers worked in teams. The theme of ECONOMICS was particularly appropriate at the time; therefore, all of the classes from literature to mathematics were taught from the point of view of the economic impact of the storm. The schedule of the day was adjusted so that all classes met for the required times and still included time for group work, interdisciplinary learning, and counseling. Eventually, by the Thanksgiving recess, the school was back to its regular schedule. The wake of the crisis was a ‘teachable moment” in which a great deal of material was covered, many skills were introduced and/or developed, and everyone learned the meaning of bringing order into chaos.
While mourning losses and enduring the chill of autumn without heat or hot running water, everyone’s spirits were high. The staff stood shoulder-to-shoulder, determined to give the best possible education to each student. Everyone scram-bled for supplies and moved forward. The students, despite feeling displaced and a bit cramped in their new environ-ment, responded with loyalty and effort. They appreciated the sense of normalcy that the staff was cultivating.
Martin De Porres High School will continue to be housed in Rosedale until January. Then, when the Regents period ends and the second semester begins, everyone anticipates a return to Rockaway with a renewed vision and enthusiasm, ready to meet new challenges and become even more involved in our community.
DR. EDWARD DANA