Coast Episcopal School Opens To Eager Students, Teachers - - The News for South Mississippi


Coast Episcopal School Opens To Eager Students, Teachers

For teachers, just being back was a cause for celebration. For students it was the new book bags.

"It's got a pocket, exclaims a young elementary student. "It's for the juice. Mine has two pockets."

The bags are a gift, and one example of the many items donated the school. They're also an example of change brought on since students and teachers last roamed these hallways.

"Eighty-five percent of my faculty are homeless, so that's a big challenge for us," says Head Master Paul Stevens.

He says that's just one of the challenges they face. Helping students return to an environment of learning from one of simple survival is another.

"We have a team of counselor here at the school," says Stevens. "They're going to help us keep an eye on the kids and make sure that they process what they've been through these last weeks."

One way they're doing began just days after Katrina struck by 5th grade teacher Reona Visser. She took it upon herself to contact every student she could find and get them started telling their stories through their own words and pictures.

"At my house we started with this," says Visser. "It's a long process. I wanted to write something. I knew it had to be about Katrina."

Students from 3rd to 8th grades designed and constructed collages of their experiences.

"Here you see the waters coming and that we hope that this is typical of the coast houses," explains Visser. "We see a city being drowned."

Like the recovery process this project will continue as well. A collaborative effort to rebuild homes and lives through the lessons learned from the unifying experience of surviving Katrina.

by Don Culpepper

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