By Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

PLP is a community of educators and while most of the time the focus is education, we can’t help but get to know one another personally. In a family or community when some of us hurt we all hurt. When some of us succeed we all celebrate.

Many of those in our community from Australia are hurting after a brushfire started last week in Victoria and quickly spread killing 181, according to ABC News, and the death toll is expected to continue to rise. We need to stand with them in this time of crisis. One of our PLP 21st Century Fellows from Australia Jenny Luca started a community where educators can collaborate to help those in need in Australia.

Bottom line – Get your students involved. Join the Working Together site, raise some money, and donate to help rebuild schools and help Australia’s students. The left-hand column of the site has a PayPal button for donations.

I received this letter and have stripped the identifiers to protect privacy. I simply wanted to share to create an awareness that will inspire us to some collective action.

Hi all,

Just need to share this … for those overseas – more than 130 people died in a bushfire on Saturday and the death toll is still rising.

On Saturday, we (my colleagues and friends) lost one of our students in the Bushfire – I taught him from Year 8 through to Year 12 – he got the best score in IT Apps for my class last year. He stayed with his parents to protect their home and all three perished – his older brother and sister weren’t home at the time. He was a school prefect, involved in musicals and drama productions, a great student and topped many subjects. Many of last year’s Yr 12s came in today and the school community is devestated.

Also, one of my colleagues who retired 2 years ago and his wife have not been heard of since Saturday, so we are fearing the worst for him – his kids were taught at the school making it even more difficult.

A new student to the school was very upset this morning and when I took a closer look, it was the daughter of someone I knew (not very well). When I enquired, it turns out her father wasn’t responding to phone calls and hadn’t been heard of for quite some time. Her mother picked her up and they went to look for him.

Hopefully, tomorrow brings some closure on these missing people.

Many families and kids lived in the area and were on high alert over the weekend and continue to be on high alert. Buses aren’t running, so they can’t get to school. Many have lost their homes, livestock, businesses, etc. 3 colleagues lost their homes while about 15 – 20 families lost their homes.

The back of the school property (a back paddock) got burnt which makes me wonder whether our emergency plan good enough if it escalated.

It was a tough day speaking to kids in class today and they told stories about their situation or family or friends not heard of or losing everything. The devestation is amazing.

While we don’t live too close, we are close enough to hear the choppers, smell the smoke, see the haze and be aware that if the wind shifted in our direction for long enough from the wrong angle, there are many green (or dry) wedges that could put our house under ember attack. Fire plan is to just pick up the kids and animals and leave. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to this.

This sort of day makes you remember to live each day like it’s your last.

The following is a repost from Jenny Luca:

Yesterday I posted about the natural disaster that has ravaged the Victorian countryside. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach read my post and offered to help in any way she could. My good friend Angela Stockman, who I collaborate with on Working together 2 make a difference, also wanted to know what she could do to help. Here we have two Americans reaching out to assist those in a country very distant from their own. Why do they want to help? Firstly no doubt, because they are sensitive people with a desire to assist their fellow citizens of the world. Perhaps they are motivated also because they have formed connections through these networks we are working in and feel a link to a country far from their own.

Sheryl spoke with me tonight and has committed to help me, Angela and other educators who may wish to join us, to do whatever it is we can to raise funds to support those in need. The Red Cross has coordinated a fundraising effort here in Australia. What we are encouraging you to do is to join Working together 2 make a difference and post your efforts there. We will set up a paypal account that will direct the monies you raise to the Red Cross appeal. Here’s what I’ve posted on the Working together 2 make a difference site to enocurage participation;

Victoria, the State I live in in Australia, has been hit by a tragic natural disaster that is affecting the lives of many of our country communities. On Saturday the 7th of Feb., bushfires, fanned by fierce northerly winds in 46 degree celcius temperatures, ravaged our countryside, leading to the deaths of 173 people. This figure is expected to rise to over 200 in the coming days as they gain access to affected areas and search homes. Native animals, livestock and family pets were other victims of this disaster.

So how can we all make a difference? We would love to see our education community from near and far band together to support the communities in need. What is needed is money to help schools rebuild, families rebuild their lost homes and for communities to build the infrastructure needed that has been lost in these fires.

What can you do? Anything that will help your students to understand the need to help others when the situation is dire. Be it a sausage sizzle, free dress day, bake sale, whatever it takes to raise a few dollars that can be used to support others. In the next few days, with the help of Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and some wisdom fron Clarence Fisher, we’ll be setting up a paypal account to direct funds you raise to the Red Cross appeal that has been set up to support those affected. Create a page here and let us know your plans. We can support one another and link our schools to a common cause. Let’s show the world how the education community can use the tools at our disposal to connect and support one another for a common purpose.

So, wherever you are in the world, think about helping out those in need here in Australia. And let’s see just how small our world really is when we connect using these tools for the common good.

We would love to see our cohort rally to support this cause. It will be a wonderful example of the power of these networked connections and their ability to form community that cares and supports one another. Think about what your school can do to help. It doesn’t have to be huge, but whatever it is, it will make a difference. Go and visit Working together 2 make a difference and see what you can do.

The following two tabs change content below.

Mary Worrell

Share this: