As teachers parish-wide learned this week about their approximate return dates to the classroom, one former teacher has made a point to help them maximize their arrival back on campus.
Renny Weber of Norco is raising money for teachers to recoup supplies and restore their classrooms following the destruction of Hurricane Ida. Weber called it a gesture to, at the very least, let a community of educators know their neighbors are thinking of them and appreciate all they do for their students.
“Whatever I can raise, to just say hey, we’re thinking about y’all … teachers at New Sarpy, at Norco Elementary, they haven’t even been able to get back into the classroom to salvage anything. Our teachers always are looking out for our kids, and they already have so much on their plate,” Weber said.
Ida severely damaged several schools in the parish, and it’s been estimated all of the schools in St. Charles Parish school district suffered at least some damage.
A former teacher for seven years himself, Weber’s never lost that appreciation for educators – he’s been surrounded by teachers his entire life. His wife is a teacher at New Sarpy Elementary School. His parents, Stephen and Becky Weber, were each longtime educators and principals.
“It kind of hits close to home,” Weber said. “New Sarpy was one of the harder hit schools. I’m no longer a teacher, but I know what they do. There are teachers who go out of their way, they’ll buy clothes for kids in their class if needed. My wife spends $300 to $400 of her own money on supplies. They really care about what they do.”
Weber opened a GoFundMe page for those who would like to donate, but has also collaborated with Destrehan High School teacher Brad Landeche to do so through Venmo. Weber said that may be the best way to go for donations, as the full donation amount can go toward the cause, whereas GoFundMe requires a percentage of the funds.
But contributions to the cause also could come in the form of a gift card, or even donated supplies, Weber said.
“Right now, given the situation, we don’t completely know what (teachers) need yet, necessarily,” Weber said. “We’re just doing this now and when teachers are getting ready to go back, we’re going to try to divide it up between the schools and let the faculty decide what to spend money on.
“If people want to mail gift cards, donate utensils, like the container boxes teachers use … supplies are a great asset. There are lots of avenues to help.”
After learning of the effort, Birdies Food and Fuel donated $500 to the cause. Weber said early feedback has been positive, though given the situation so many find themselves in locally, he hopes word traveling “outside of the hurricane zone” might help to yield more aid.
“It’s been pretty good considering the amount everyone has on their plate right now,” Weber said. “Hopefully it can grow from word of mouth and once people can kind of take a moment to breathe.”
Those who would like to donate may do so through Venmo @Renny-Weber or @Brad-Landeche; by mailing items to 625 Oak St. In Norco, LA 70079; or through GoFundMe (titled Help Teachers Recover).