Come Together

Friday, December 13th started like every other day. I got up around 4:30 went for a run with the dogs, had a cup of coffee and began to think about the day ahead. When I had gotten to school we discovered that there was a significant water main leak. After having a plumber and the maintenance department assess the situation, it was determined the water would be turned off all day. Okay…

So now we have to prepare to evacuate our building since there was no water. If you are familiar with our campus, you know we have six self-contained classrooms, each with unique needs. We contacted the district office letting them know the situation. That was when everyone started working together and coordinating transportation, preparing the school and staff at our evacuation destination, contacting health / nursing, food, custodial, curriculum and exceptional student services. Within 30 minutes our campus was buzzing with addition support from all departments at the district office.

By 10:00 we had an automated call out to all parents explaining the evacuation process, we had begun evacuating by grade levels out to our athletic fields to account for all students and then onto buses. By 10:40 we had over 700 students and 70 staff members relocated to our evacuation site. Our host school was very gracious and flexible accommodating our students’ needs.

Next we needed to set up a parent check out. It was important for us to create a safe release of students. Parents were patiently lined up for nearly 90 minutes as we verified they were on the pick up list and checked identification. Meanwhile, classes were quickly moving through the cafeteria lines picking up lunches. District staff coordinated to provide lunch and breaks for our staff.

Looking out across the multipurpose room that afternoon, I observed teachers, support staff and students laughing and having fun despite our circumstances. Teachers had brought bags with activities, books and games to help maintain some normalcy.

Next we had to coordinate dismissal. The transportation department quickly coordinated buses to transport our walkers and bike riders back to school, while scheduling our regular bus routes to pick up from our evacuation location and provide staff transportation back to our campus. By 4:00 all students were dismissed and accounted for. We checked messages and made a few calls before we packed up and headed home.

Driving home it was surreal, I kept wondering if the evacuation really happened? Were there things we could have done differently? How would we approach an evacuation in the future? I am certain there were other thoughts running through my head, however by the time I got I was exhausted and thankful the next day was Saturday.


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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