Baytown teachers overcome back-to-school challenges after Harvey

Teachers who have faced struggles with Harvey themselves are also trying to get their classrooms ready for school.

BAYTOWN, Texas - Monday, many teachers in our area will be heading back to work while still trying to repair their own homes.

"Normally, we would have a little more time to shop and prepare, but we've been buying school supplies and things that will do for our first couple days of lesson,” said Kylie Sobczak.

Monday is Sobczak's first first day of school as the new Culinary Arts teacher at the new Stuart Career Center in Baytown.

"So I would normally spend all day in my classroom. We were there earlier this afternoon, but of course we had to leave because we like to get here before dark and check on the house,” she explained.

Typically the weekend before the first day of school, teachers are resting, but like many in Houston and Southeast Texas, sleep has been hard to come by.

"It's been busy,” said Ian, Kylie's husband, who also works at Goose Creek CISD. "We've been making sure that as we take out all the sheet rock, we've been pulling out the insulation and also making sure all the sheet rock nails and everything, screws and finishing nails are out, so we aren't getting caught on anything."

Since Harvey made landfall, Goose Creek's teachers have shown that Houston isn't the only community that is strong.

"A guy we have worked with for four weeks, he's a brand new teacher like me, showed up at our doorstep in a bass boat to pick us up and he got us out of the neighborhood,” Kylie Sobczak said, while standing in their gutted dining room.

Another teacher, Rex Miller, the meat processing teacher at Stuart, took them in.

"Kylie is our culinary arts teacher in the district, so she's a chef, and I'm eating like a king. And Ian is the computer maintenance teacher, so we have got unbelievably good WiFi now. All I need now is to find somebody who's a yard person that's an evacuee and I can house them,” he said.

"There isn't a teacher in that school that hasn't put hands on our house, or donated supplies to us, or donated their space. And that means more to me than anything,” Kylie Sobczak said, as tears welled in her eyes.

Of course the teachers are worried about their homes and their situations, but they say honestly, for them, it's really about making sure when the kids get here, to their first day of school, everything is normal and balanced.

"First day plans: I kind of re-did my lesson plans and pushed everything back a day because Baytown was hit so hard that almost all of the kids are going through something similar to what we are going through. I've put a roundtable together, where if they feel comfortable sharing, they can share. I'll share first, and invite them to unload if they need it,” Kylie Sobczak said.

Luckily, the school faired just fine through the storm, so the students will get to enjoy a bright and shiny new school. As for Kylie and Ian Sobczak, they're going to focus on rebuilding their home after the school bell rings.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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