Two Years After Tornado Teachers Find Benefit in Storm's Disruption

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There's often something cleansing about a tragedy. We typically  find a way to renew, rebuild even better. A handful of  Dallas Independent School District schools had no place to teach after the Tornado of 2019.

Stadiums turned to schoolhouses with students needing meals and safe spaces as their own homes were destroyed.

At Walnut Hill Elementary their physical renewal came on Royal Lane at the old Tom Field Elementary, a school Dallas ISD had previously shut down for low enrollment.

The tornado gave this old deserted building a rebirth. Now, two years later they don't even think about the old campus.

"It's not really something we hear a whole lot what we see every morning is a smiling face, joy in the environment and the here and the now," said principal Phillip Potter. "It's not the building that makes a school." 

The educators here learned how to teach when they didn't have a physical building they used technology and found a way. Sound familiar?

"That helped us out for the pandemic, we were ready for the change," said kindergarten teacher Andrea Lopez. "We were ready you know we had to be a chameleon and change things up and find ways to teach the kids to get them engaged with a computer we were ready for that change."

Walnut Hill won't be going back to their old building, the district is combining it with the middle school and making a K-8 school that will be located next door to Thomas Jefferson High School, both brand new buildings, bigger with a goal of creating more high performers.

"We're going to take the programming that we have and scale that and offer it to kids around our city," said Potter.

"Some of these people that are doing well and you just leave them alone, and the ones that need a lot of support you give them a whole lot of love," said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

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