It is inspiring to see the good citizenship of so many in times of crisis. People helping people in a time of need is how many get through the most difficult of times. Currently, communities in the Northeast United States are recovering from what has been a very difficult and destructive storm. Hurricane Sandy has destroyed property, lives and memories. The stories and pictures are often difficult to watch, and it’s impossible to comprehend the scope of damage if you are not in the middle of the event.

As many begin to recover from this disaster people in the communities affected are trying to create some sense of normalcy to their lives and the lives of their children. One of those everyday practices that will help is the reopening of our schools. For students, teachers and communities the reopening of school is a sign that the recovery process is in progress.

However, the ability to open, and have the resources and supplies to do so will be a challenge for some school districts. Many organizations are currently collecting donations and supplies to help communities in need and I encourage anyone who can to find an organization they trust to donate and assist in the recovery effort. But I also want to assure that our students, teachers and schools can be taken care of too.

In an effort to leverage the positive power of social media to help others, a site has been developed to allow educators in need a way to list what will help their school, students, teachers and/or community. Those who can help can identify a need and sign up to help. This site is designed to connect, not collect or distribute. One of the great things about social media is it connects educators from around the world and this would be a wonderful example.

Here’s how you can get involved:
If you’re an educator who is in need of something for your school, students, staff or community complete the information using the form from this site:  This information includes your school district name, school name, items needed (please be specific), school district contact person (include your title) and the contact person’s contact information. Use your official title, email and Twitter account so those looking to help can verify that you are who you say you are (sorry, to have to put this but people want to be able to confirm those requesting and providing). List what you need. If you are someone who can help click on the link at the bottom of the form next to the submit button. Hopefully you will find something that you, your school or district can supply those making the request. This includes putting your name, title and official contact information in the space provided after what was listed as a need. Then use the contact information to contact each other. You can discuss specifics, shipping information, etc. As stated above this is a connection site to help making the connection between those who have a need and those who can assist.

One aspect to consider for those who want to help is to check the site daily. Most New Jersey schools are still not in session and it will take a few days or weeks to really assess needs. If you don’t see something today, look tomorrow or the next day or next week.

My hope is that these connections help out in the present but grow to be educational bonds between educators around the country and world. We all look to help others in need when there is a disaster and I thank you for taking time to consider your colleagues in New Jersey.

Thank you to many New Jersey educators who have helped move this forward. Jeff Bradbury for making his site TeacherCast available to house the document, Brad Currie and Billy Krakower for their assistance, and Dana Sirotiak whose tweet on going to help out in her local school district has motivated others to help.