By TEA Executive Director Carolyn Crowder
In just the first three weeks of March, some Tennesseans have experienced enough trauma and worry to last a lifetime. As the general public’s attention shifts to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, we must remember that our fellow teachers, students and communities affected by the tornadoes in Middle Tennessee still need our support.
I want to say directly to our members who are still dealing with the aftermath of the storms and who are now facing a new challenge with the global pandemic: Your association has not forgotten you. We are here and will continue to support you in whatever way you need. Please remember that as a TEA member you have access to exclusive benefits and resources to help you work through these difficult times.
• Member Assistance Program: TEAteachers.org/MAP
MAP offers comprehensive assistance to members and family in your household 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The program is free and services are completely confidential. If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling emotionally, services are available to help you when and where you need it.
• NEA Member Benefits support: bit.ly/NEA_disastersupport
NEA Member Benefits has resources specifically for those who have experienced a FEMA-declared natural disaster. At the link you will find information on help with insurance claims and financial support.
If others would like to support those still working to recover from storm damage, here are a few organizations to consider:
• Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund: cfmt.org
• Gideon’s Army (focusing on Nashville): gideonsarmyunited.org
• Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Fund (focusing on Mt. Juliet and Putnam County): disasterreliefeffort.org
• Nourish Food Bank (focusing on Mt. Juliet and Putnam County): nourishfoodbanks.org
It really has been quite a year already, and we still have 9 months ahead. The trauma of the past few weeks and the uncertainty of what is to come weighs heavily even for educators like us who are used to being pulled in 100 different ways and keeping 10 different plates spinning all at once.
I encourage you to lean on your association. Stay connected and check in with your colleagues. While friends, family and community members are dealing with similar concerns, these times present a unique challenge for educators. We don’t just stress and worry about our own family, we stress and worry about the well-being of our students and school family, as well.