Kershaw County high school teachers figuring out how to start over after tornado

Updated: Jan. 13, 2020 at 10:34 PM EST
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KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Teachers from North Central High School in Kershaw County, the school that took a direct hit from a tornado this past week, are working to welcome students back to school on Wednesday.

Officials said the damage to the school was so severe that the school will be moving to a vocational building for months. Students already had today and tomorrow off for teacher workdays, but today the teachers worked to get ready at the new vocational building after losing everything in their classrooms.

Many teachers said they are feeling the same way as the students: emotional. One teacher told me her classroom is an extension of who she is, with years worth of lesson plans, sentimental notes from students, and books that create a positive learning environment. All of those things are most likely gone.

“I’ve been teaching for fourteen years,” Lana Broughton, a 12th grade English teacher, said. “So 14 years’ worth of stuff. Our classrooms, we spend eight to ten hours a day in that classroom. That classroom is an extension of us, and we create that positive learning environment for our children.”

The teachers met this morning at the vocational building where they will begin teaching Wednesday. They met as departments, creating lesson plans despite the lack of supplies. Many teachers left their binders of lesson plans and their laptops in their classrooms, not imagining what was coming over the weekend.

Lana Broughton said it’s the sentimental items that are the hardest to lose.

“You know, whether it’s a nice note or a graduation invitation from college from former students, I would really like to get those things out,” Broughton said.

Broughton said the teachers were told it would take over a year for repairs, and until the school is repaired, students will be attending classes about 10 miles down the road from North Central High school.

“Our meeting opened up with raw emotion today. A lot of people were fighting back tears. It’s just so surreal,” Broughton said.

She said it was emotional for all the teachers seeing the destruction and thinking about what it would have been like to be at school when it happened.

“It would have been mass chaos,” Broughton said. “I mean you practice it, and the kids are quiet when you do it, but when it comes to watching ceiling tiles and walls be lifted. It would have been very powerful as far as emotions if we had been in school when that hit.”

Broughton, a former student at North Central High School, said it’s heartbreaking knowing that they will never be able to play basketball games in the gym or graduate at the school. But the teachers are determined to create the best environment for the students at the new school.

“They are never going to play volleyball in that gym again. They are never going to play basketball. They are not going to graduate from there so it was very difficult. I was trying to be strong for them but it’s so emotional to see it that way and it was devastating to them and it was devastating to the administrators.”

Broughton said the English teachers will be taken to their classrooms tomorrow to see if there is anything that can be salvaged.

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