The Fourcast asked Head of School Dr. Karen Warren Coleman about the school’s response and relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
Q. As the first big, national event that has occurred as the Head of School, what was the response from Hockaday like?
A. As we began to receive reports about the impending hurricane, I was pleased by the outpouring of support, care, and consideration from the Hockaday community before, during, and after the storm. Our friends and colleagues at schools in the Houston area had barely begun their academic years and were displaced from their homes and schools when Harvey hit, and immediately the network of ISAS Heads of School came together to learn more about what was happening in real time. We formulated options and plans to assist any fellow schools, students, and families who may have been directly impacted by the disaster and kept our lines of communication open to support them.
Q. How have you personally seen the Hockaday community helping hurricane relief efforts?
A. Immediately after Hurricane Harvey hit, hundreds of offers of support by our parents, students, faculty, staff, and alumnae came into the School. I received several calls and emails from our families offering their support, and we developed a response plan to assist those in need including our faculty and staff who have family in the area. At the onset of the crisis, we partnered with the American Red Cross to help the victims. I saw all divisions collecting change to support the victims by purchasing items for local shelters. At the direction of Service Learning Director Laura Day, we created drop-off locations at Hockaday where goods and necessities could be collected, and I know students worked many hours throughout the weeks following the disaster at the Convention Center shelter and distribution centers. The eye-opening experiences that our students and teachers have shared from their efforts at the shelters have been life changing and have reinforced how important it is to be grateful for each day and not take their homes and families for granted. Likewise when we reached out to support our alumnae in the Houston area, and subsequently to alumnae in Florida who may have been impacted by Irma, their responses were filled with gratitude, love, and appreciation.
Q. Did you personally join in on any relief efforts that you would like to mention?
A. Yes, I have worked closely with the division heads and department directors to identify programs for supporting those in need here on campus, and I have contributed to the donation houses and brought supplies for the victims. Daily, I continue to work with Laura Day to identify and support our efforts at the shelters and distribution centers, and we are in constant communication with our DISD partner schools who need our assistance with families relocating from the Houston area. Additionally, I continue to work with my fellow Heads of School at the ISAS schools to accommodate any needs or schedule changes to help all of our students.