When he heard of the flooding in Louisiana, Rocky River High School science teacher and Baton Rouge native Derrick Brown immediately called home to make sure his family and friends were safe. A call to a friend who works for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and to his former church prompted him to take action.
“She told me about the many displaced students and teachers in need of basic school supplies. The pastor said the church had about 38 displaced families in need of clothes,” said Brown. “I knew I had to help.”
Brown called his principal to discuss his idea for a donation drive. She was enthusiastic.
“You never know when the tide can turn and we may need help,” said Principal Ericia Turner. “It’s also a great lesson for our students. I immediately said yes.”
Students have learned a lot from Brown’s act of kindness and have become involved in the effort.
“I was most touched when a student, who I know doesn’t have very much himself, brought me a book bag full of supplies,” said Brown. “The fact he did that is huge. It shows his selflessness.”
Students have donated school supplies and clothes, sorted items and created fliers and posters to promote the drive. Staff, community members and MetLife have also donated materials. More donations continue to roll in.
“I’ve told everyone that even if they donate one pencil, it will make a difference,” Brown said.
Brown also coaches the school’s rugby club. His players said they admired him before this and that their admiration is even greater now.
“There are so many negative things happening in the world right now, so being part of something positive feels good,” said rugby player and senior Vernon King. “This is very personal for him, so he’s not doing it for the glory. It reflects the kind of person he is — an all-around good guy.”
Brown has used the natural disaster in his earth science lessons.
“My grandmother’s home sits on a hill and has never been flooded until now. So we’ve had conversations about the area’s weather and climate,” he said. “I also went onto Google maps and showed them the farm I grew up on and discussed the unique Hoo Shoo Too Road that is near it.”
The materials are being stored in a 12-foot trailer behind the school. Brown will hook the trailer to his car, then he and his wife will make the 12-hour drive to Baton Rouge. When they arrive, they will drop off the items at a community center designated for the school district.
“Mr. Brown is showing us it’s our responsibility to help others, especially fellow classmates, even if they’re not in our school or in our state. Being kind has no boundaries,” said Brandon Motley, a senior.
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