By Hermann Pereira
Adversity brings out the true character in a community. Our community has had some unfortunate events happen, but the resilience of Waco has always persevered.
I spent the first four years of my teaching career at West ISD and enjoyed teaching and coaching for that school district. My time there was filled with great memories, and it was there that I caught the love of teaching while working as a Trojan. In 2012 I began a new teaching position at Connally ISD. I enjoyed my time as a Cadet for 10 years, but tragedy struck in West and I experienced the true character of our community.
The West Fertilizer plant exploded April 17, 2013 -- horrific event. I remember watching the TV and feeling helpless. The community of West had lost many buildings, homes, and loved ones. The next day when I returned to campus I was thrilled to see the Connally ISD leadership had begun conversations on how to offer our space to West ISD. We spent the next few weeks figuring out how to merge two school districts into one location. There were so many details to figure out and a short amount of time, but the outpouring of support from school districts across the state and community members across the Greater Waco area was eye opening.
Tuesday morning, July 27, the Waco community woke up to find out that a pillar in the East Waco community, G.W. Carver Middle School, had burned down. We all have been in shock and are devastated for teachers and students who were going to enter that building in just a couple of weeks. We all want to help in any way possible because we know how vital it is for our students to be in their schools learning. The school lost everything in the fire and teachers lost years' worth of teaching supplies, decorations, and curriculum. Carver is a pillar in that community and will be greatly missed, but we know they will build back and be stronger than ever.
These two events that happened eight years apart have many similarities. We saw the character of our community back in 2013, and we are seeing on display again. The Carver family is in the early steps of rebuilding, but I would say to them is that the community is here, we are wrapping our arms around you, and want to support you in whatever way possible.
If you are a community member rest assured that the leadership at Transformation Waco, Waco ISD, and community leaders involved are working around the clock right now to ensure that students and teachers have all that they need to begin a successful school year. Merging two schools is no easy feat, there are no handbooks for something like this, but I know that the leadership there will have Indian Springs Middle School ready to serve kids.
Now is not the time to be critical; it is the time to unite and support in whatever ways that the district asks of us. I am proud to live in this community that steps up in a crisis. There is strength in unity and for that reason we stand united with Carver.
If you are wanting to help, here is a link provided by Transformation Waco.:
Hermann Pereira is chief program officer for Prosper Waco and also leads its education and workforce initiatives.