Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Heroes Of Hurricane Relief: Teacher Janet Thorne

I was reading a journalist's account of several notables (including Jesse Jackson) and their entourages showing-up simultaneously at a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rounge when I came across this fascinating account about one of what must be many teachers who are doing what they can to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina: (emphasis added)
Others eager to help, such as Janet Thorne, are simply bringing their time and energy to the shelter.

The past two afternoons, the kindergarten teacher has driven 45 miles to this Baton Rouge shelter from her home in St. Francisville to do one thing: read to children. The kindergarten teacher said in the midst of the mass shelter's herdlike environment - assembly line feedings, strict curfews and mass bedrooms shared by about 2,000 people - she wanted to offer a few children some one-on-one story time. Such quiet moments are rare here. Thorne said she figured some parents could use a break from baby-sitting.

After an hour of reading to Daranishia Early, 9, and her brother, Derrick, 8, Thorne said Daranishia looked up at her and said, "Ms. Thorne, can we be friends for life?"

Thorne replied she would really like that.

Thorne said she wished the children, who once lived in New Orleans but now will be registering at a Baton Rouge school, could be in her classroom.

Her hope is that whoever their teacher is, they will embrace displaced children such the Earlys and not treat them like an inconvenience or burden.

"We have to show them love and compassion when they come to us," Thorne said.

But Thorne's simple message doesn't just apply to her fellow teachers. I want to thank her for reminding me exactly why I put my life on hold to join the Red Cross relief effort here in Louisiana for two critical weeks.
It is with the assistance of hundreds of volunteers such as Janet Thorn that many of Hurricane Katrina's victims will ultimately overcome the tragedy that has befallen them.

In recognition of the quiet way that teacher Janet Thorn has helped ease the suffering of countless children, we humbly offer her our Red Apple Salute
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