Saturday, March 26, 2011

After a Disaster

This week we have a guest columnist, Terry Smithson the Director of Marketing for JES & Co., covering the topic of disasters and disaster recovery. Peggy will be back in a few weeks.

You might wonder what qualifies me to write on disaster and recovery. I worked as the Education Strategist for Intel previously and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I both created and led the Hurricane Education Leadership Program (HELP) team for 2.5 years in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida. The HELP team included 39 for profit companies, 11 foundations, 7 non-profits, education press, and political figures from the 5 Gulf States, the U.S. DOE, and several celebrities. I share Joann’s feeling that our hearts and prayers go out to all those teachers, families, and students that are affected by the recent tragedies in Japan. We pray you are safe and find the strength needed to recover and move forward. We have many teachers In Japan that use the Gateway.

The education process shuts down immediately after a disaster and rightfully so. The first priority is life saving and survival. Then after a period of time, the education process must resume in order to not lose a generation of students. In order to do so, makeshift schoolrooms are set up anywhere they can be which may be a group of students and teachers meeting under a tree, in a gymnasium, at someone’s home, etc. What is sorely missing is access to education resources. Thus, we are very pleased that the resources in The Gateway to 21st Century Skills are accessible by everyone and free. As communications return, all the teacher needs is a computer, laptop, or hand held device and connectivity.

After a disaster, many students do not understand what, why, or the dynamics behind the disaster. The resources Joann selected this week will help students understand the cause and effect of these nature caused events. Disasters can be particularly traumatic to children. Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine the extent of the psychological trauma, and whether or not professional mental health services are indicated. This checklist is one way to assess a child’s mental health status. Here is a FEMA booklet on how to check on kids’ mental health after a disaster or traumatic event.

Researching Natural Disasters is a resource to research types of natural disasters and create a booklet on how to protect them. Natural disasters come in many different forms. In order to be better prepared, students should be familiar with the various types of disasters that may occur in their regional areas. All students should also recognize natural disasters that occur worldwide, such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, winter storms, wildfires, electrical storms, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Students also need to know how to use the Internet and a collection of books to collect information about the different events. Using desktop publishing software, students learn how to create a brochure that will include a brief description of the event, safety precautions, and photos to enhance the project.

Here is a resource that focuses on how Federal Disaster Relief can be used to learn about the politics of disaster aid. In this lesson, students examine the use of federal disaster relief. They then create a classroom wall chart, detailing the roles of the various individuals and agencies involved after the declaration of a “major disaster.”

These are just a few of the many resources available on The Gateway involving the study of disasters. Joann has chosen many more resources to feature throughout the week on Facebook and Twitter, so please join us there to learn more!

~Peggy's Corner (By Terry Smithson) - 3/25/2011~

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