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Hurricane Harvey unleashed its fury on the Lone Star State right as the new school year got underway. But while most brick and mortar public schools in southern Texas had to cancel classes due to the unprecedented floodwaters, students at Texas Online Preparatory School, where I serve as Middle and High School Principal, as well as Texas Virtual Academy, were able to start their school year and attend online class sessions as long as they had access to internet and power. What’s more, students who did not have internet and power were able to work on their lessons in offline coursework until power and internet were restored.

Many parents expressed relief and gratitude that their children’s ability to learn and focus on school helped to create a sense of normalcy during an otherwise out of control situation.

“God bless a truck, a boat, strong hearts and bodies,” said Tammie Newman of Spring, Texas in North Harris County. A parent of four children who attend TOPS, “Communication from the staff was great during the crisis. While my husband was out rescuing neighbors, my children were largely able to remain up-to-date on their studies. The commitment and dedication of TOPS teachers was outstanding!”

This despite the fact that some teachers and staff were themselves affected by the storm’s wrath. For example, the home of one K12-powered homeroom advisor was surrounded by water for two days. But the advisor still conducted class sessions and placed phone calls to check on students and their families throughout the ordeal. Other teachers evacuated their homes but found safe havens to continue to be available to students. That’s dedication!

The flexibility of the online school model helped to foster a sense of routine with the least amount of disruption to education possible. Our educators exemplified the K12 values of passion, accountability, courage and trust in spades during this ordeal. I am honored

to have the opportunity to support these students, teachers, staff, and their families during this national time of crisis.

About The Author

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson is the middle school and high school principal at Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS). Prior to joining TOPS, Elizabeth taught 8th grade math and was a Lead Master Teacher at Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA). Previously, Elizabeth taught math in Arizona and Indiana for 4.5 years.  She became a business owner and mother before ultimately realizing that teaching was her passion.  Elizabeth graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in economics.  In 2009, she earned a second bachelor’s degree, this one in secondary math education. In 2014, she received a master of science in educational leadership from Ball State University. Elizabeth lives in Mesa, Arizona, with her husband and enjoys family time spent with their combined eight children. Elizabeth loves taking photos, math, adventures, learning, and spending time outdoors with her family.

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