WILSON, N.C. — December 11, 2018 — Perhaps Jones County Schools would say that its silver lining following Hurricane Florence may have been tinged with a little bit of royal blue. That would be the hope of Barton College Bulldogs who rallied to help Barton alumnus superintendent Dr. Michael Bracy and his school system following the devastating aftermath of the hurricane.
Those Barton Bulldogs were led by the College’s School of Education professors and education majors, who empathized with the challenges facing a school system that had lost so much — from severe damage to school facilities to the loss of teaching resources and materials.
So, following this kind of damage, where does one start to help a school system return to the important work of educating its students? The professors and students in Barton’s School of Education agreed it would be starting with the basics, which would include gathering as many books, teaching resources, and school supplies as possible to help buoy the Jones County teachers and students. And, that’s exactly what they did.
“The School of Education was looking for ways we could provide meaningful service during the annual Barton College Day of Service in October,” shared Dr. Jackie Ennis, dean of the School of Education at Barton. “We had the hurricane on our minds, and we knew that many schools in North Carolina were dealing with devastation. Then, we read about Jones County Schools losing two of their six schools to the hurricane, in addition to major losses suffered by all of their schools. We decided that this school system probably needed our help more than other systems.
“Dr. Michael Bracy, superintendent of Jones County Schools, graduated from Barton College and earned his teaching license here,” continued Dr. Ennis. That provided an immediate connection to the College, and we wanted to show our support for Dr. Bracy’s system. We hoped it would be meaningful to him to know that his alma mater cared about his faculty, staff, and students.”
When he was contacted, Dr. Bracy quickly expressed his appreciation for this offer from Barton and noted that Jones County Schools could use a multitude of items, but especially children’s books.
Barton’s School of Education began to make its plans. School of Education faculty, staff, and student workers, as well as Professor Carolyn Hornick’s First Year Seminar (FYS) class, helped to gather, sort, label, and pack materials. Professor John Boldt’s fellow church members at LaGrange Christian Church in LaGrange and members of the Mu Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma in Rocky Mount also pitched in to help. Later, more faculty, staff, and students from across the Barton campus, as well as Wilson County teachers and recent graduates from the School of Education, joined in the effort by contributing a number of much-needed items. The Rummage Warehouse in Wilson also generously donated gently used children’s books.
“Among the items we collected were new and used children’s books; mathematics manipulatives; and basic school supplies, such as pencils, pens, markers, notebook paper, composition books, 3-ring binders, and instructional materials for teachers,” Ennis noted. “We also received $235 in gift cards to Amazon.com to share with the school system. Also included in this plethora of materials were hand-made cards, created by School of Education faculty and staff, as well as by students in Hornick’s FYS class, to provide caring messages of encouragement to the faculty and students in Jones County Schools. Providing an effective learning environment is always challenging, but their circumstances in Jones County following the storm had made the task especially difficult. We were excited to be able to offer some support for the learning environments in this school system.”
As the boxes of materials grew, so did the need for transportation to deliver these resources. Barton College School of Education’s administrative assistant Donna Short ended up renting a U-Haul cargo van to deliver the items to Jones County where an appreciative team of Jones County Schools staff members, led by David Mooty, director of Educational Program Services at Jones County Schools, helped Short unload the items at their warehouse. Now, the school system staff will need to decide how the materials are distributed to the individual schools in Jones County, but it is the Barton Bulldogs’ hope that their special delivery will help ease the stress of these dedicated educators.
“I can’t express how grateful we are for the kindness shown during this tough time,” shared Dr. Michael Bracy, superintendent for Jones County Schools. “Dr. Jackie Ennis and Barton College’s School of Education are to be commended for their tireless efforts in collecting so many needed items for our staff and students. Not only has this been a blessing to me personally to be remembered by my alma mater where I received my teaching license, but also a blessing to my Jones County Schools family. We will always be grateful for this generosity.”