|Published by guest writer and tech specialist, Stacy Bodin
Upon entering Dozier Elementary anyone would instantly see a normal elementary school, however looks can be deceiving. Not evident as you look down the cheerful hallway, is the long road traveled through the last four years in the life of the school.
September 24, 2005 was the date Hurricane Rita hit a neighboring coastal Louisiana parish, sending flooding water in Vermilion Parish. Of the twenty district schools, seven were instantly displaced. One of those schools was Dozier Elementary in Erath, Louisiana.
On October 6, 2005, a long physical journey began for the elementary school as the teachers and students moved the first time. The initial leg of their path began with a platooning system with Cecile Picard @ Maurice Elementary, a campus sixteen miles away. Making a difficult situation feasible for five months, both student bodies worked together to share one school plant by attending long days, three days a week.
With an excited community in tow on March 13th, Dozier Elementary made its second move back to their stripped school for a short lived two month span. Glad to return home, everyone dismissed the bare gray cement floors, empty walls, the absence of classroom doors and ominous feeling in the once “warm” school atmosphere.
With extensive work still needed on the facility, the faculty, staff and student body moved a third time in June of 2006, to FEMA trailers where they remained three years. During that time span, Hurricane Ike brought flood waters back to the community, flooding the three Erath schools once again on September 13, 2008. Fortunately this time, with Dozier still housed in FEMA buildings, the teachers didn’t suffer the loss they experienced with Hurricane Rita. The unoccupied original school plant did flood again.
During the first week of August in 2009, Dozier Elementary educators moved a fourth time to return home to its renovated school. As anyone could imagine, filtering through the halls, were familiar whispers of the famous line Dorothy spoke in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home!”
With the school in a basic survival mode for four years, the goal now lies with regaining smaller technology items and acquiring new resources and/or tools. With district wide budget cuts coming, the school also hopes to begin replacing older computers with the help of donors or grants.
Though money was donated for damages at the district level, understandably earmarked funds were spent on replacing larger and higher priority technology items for all district schools, but the smaller and personal items were not.
In February, Dozier Elementary decided to move forward using their “Eye on Technology” theme and venturing out with a new idea linking the Digital Wish Foundation. With the spotlight on their website @ http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/dozier, the school launched a “Digital Wish/Technology” campaign in hopes of refreshing their technology program and gaining needed resources. Principal Karla Toups and the tech committee set up a school wide page asking for grade level cameras, accessories, flip cameras and software. Individual teachers also each have personal digital wish accounts with needs listed, in hope that parents, grandparents, and/or businesses would help their classroom needs. Letters were sent home by many classroom teachers to communicate current needs for continuous technology growth.
Educators are seeking instructional software for reading, writing and math which would benefit daily technology centers and intervention programs. With the goal of moving forward through creative technology lessons, many teachers are interested in digital storytelling tools. With the help of the Digital Wish/Technology campaign, it is the faculty’s hope that donors could assist in rebuilding, as well as helping them move in a positive and productive way.
For the teachers, students and faculty members who experienced the flood waters and moving four times in four years, memories of hardship do emerge however, coupled with that struggle, lies triumph, strength, endurance and a strong commitment toward education. Each educator, student and parent who endured the four year journey would quickly admit two things “It has been a long, hard road for the school” and that “there really is no place like home!”
Additional Links in case you need more photos, etc…
You can see Erath Flooding photos Hurricane Rita @
You can see Erath Flooding photos for Hurricane Ike @
Vermilion Parish Schools: Struggles and Tragedies
Dozier Elementary: Erath, Louisiana