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December 14, 2018

One Camp Fire Teacher's Story: Where is She Now?

One Camp Fire Teacher's Story:  Where is She Now?

Imagine that your school and town burned down in a horrific, deadly fire.  Somehow, eventually- you've got to continue teaching- even though your classroom is gone, along with every instructional supply you ever created or purchased.  But how?  And WHERE?  And furthermore, how do you FOCUS on these issues when your home is also gone, and you are in shock and grieving for all that is lost?

Camp Fire Teacher's Story


These are the issues that the teachers from Paradise and the Kindergarten teachers from Ponderosa School are now dealing with.  If you read my first post on Camp Fire Teacher Amy Keene's story, you'll remember her terrifying escape through the flames to safety after first evacuating her students.  This happened on Thursday, November 8, 2018.  And then they were expected to go back to work teaching on Monday, December 3rd!  Administrators scrambled to find vacant classrooms for teachers and students to use, and then they had to begin.  

Camp Fire, Burnt School Bus


I believe that the teachers are all trying to be brave and strong for the benefit of their students.  Wouldn't you?  But I would guess that the children, in their pain, are unloading much of their pain, grief, and trauma on their trusted teachers- because who else do they have, other than their parents?  

One source told me (in reference to all of the Camp Fire teachers), "They all are team teaching, and allowing each other time to go on coffee runs, or just go in another room to cry."  I have also been told that some teachers have severe PTSD and are considering taking stress leave.  Still others are simply afraid that they will lose their jobs due to declining enrollment, since so many families simply moved away.  What a lot of difficult, sad circumstances!  


Ponderosa School in Paradise after the Camp Fire


Read it all from Amy below.  It's another amazing story of resilience and courage!  Amy and the other Camp Fire teachers are heroes, putting their students' welfare ahead of their own!

And don't forget- if you have any room at all in your heart and wallet to help these teachers out, please donate to their GoFundMe Account so that they can begin purchasing the vital supplies that they will need to truly rebuild their classrooms.  THANK YOU!!!


Ponderosa School in Paradise


Note:  Amy's words are below in italics, with minimal editing on my part for clarification, etc.  The pictures below include some of the amazing workmats and centers that were prepped for the teachers by Liz Williams, a wonderful teacher from Chico with a heart of gold!  Read more about her at the bottom of this post.  There are also some pictures of Amy's kids using these centers as well.


Just One Day to Prepare

After the Camp Fire on Thursday, November 8, 2018, Paradise Unified School District went back to school on Monday, December 3rd. The school my team and I teach at, Ponderosa Elementary, is being held at Durham Elementary. The staff at Durham consolidated rooms and made us feel more than welcomed at their site.

Evacuated from the New School on Day One Due to Flash Floods

We had the Thursday and Friday before to get our new room ready. Well actually the kindergarten team had only Friday. The lady who taught in the room we are in also lost her home in the fire and was moving her stuff from the room on Thursday. That is when we were all evacuated from the NEW school because there were FLASH FLOODS. I really could do nothing but laugh at the circumstances of being evacuated. I drove home four of my fellow kindergarten teachers that day and then went back to my hotel room.

On Friday we kept very busy and really started to make the room feel welcoming. Saturday we, as a team, went "shopping" for school supplies. Two local Chico Unified School Districts kept extremely busy gathering supplies for all of the teachers who were affected by the Camp Fire. We then brought the supplies to our classroom. Some of us busied ourselves that day to get items put away. A few of us finished putting the final touches in the room on Sunday. We were as ready as we could be for Monday morning. 


Camp Fire Centers

All FIVE Kindergarten Teachers and 69 Students in ONE ROOM

69 Kids, One Room, Camp Fire


We had 69 five and six year old students show up to our room on Monday! We basically planned as the day went! There was a lot of singing, dancing, playing and story reading. Each day after we had more of a plan and each day got easier. Each teacher and class now has a section of the room to gather and do some teaching. We still do the singing, dancing, playing and story reading as a whole class. We only have a few more school days to be in one room.  Winter break starts on the 20th of December, and then we come back we should have two classrooms.

Camp Fire Kids, One Classroom

We could not have done this without the help and love of so many teachers around the state and country.

Camp Fire Donations


We could not have done this without the help and love of so many teachers around the state and country! We have a classroom full of picture books. We have needed supplies.

Laminator, Camp Fire Teachers


We also didn't have to do any planning or prepping because of Liz Williams, a special teacher that lives nearby and follows Heidi Butkus.  Her help took a huge load off of us!  That same teacher, Liz Williams, ended up getting one of my students and also a student from Paradise Elementary.

Camp Fire, Classroom, Center


Thank you to all who have donated to our GoFundMe account, who have sent or brought items to my husband's office and who have kept us in your prayers.


Amy and Liz


Amy and Liz (pictured above) were fortunate enough to be able to meet in person just last week, and HOW I wished I could have joined them!  I have only met Liz in person at a conference a year ago, but I feel as though I know both them quite well by this point!  Liz has worked tirelessly for the benefit of the entire Kindergarten team!  I am truly amazed at her generosity and loving spirit.  She has put together teams of people doing prep work for the Camp Fire teachers, creating centers and work mats, and anything at all that she thought they might be able to use and need.  That is just the heart of a servant, and what I would call LOVE IN ACTION!  I do pray that she is richly blessed!

However, she is not the only one!  I have had MANY messages, emails, and phone calls from teachers that are gathering supplies and are mailing them or driving them right to where they need to go!  One teacher in Long Beach was loading up her RV, and was planning a road trip to drop off some 40 boxes of school supplies that she had collected.  I'm really quite amazed, and so THANKFUL that the education community is supporting one another!  

If YOU are one of those that donated or helped in some other way- either through prayers, prep work, emotional support, or anything that I didn't mention, I just want to say, "May God bless you for that!"  Good things come right back to you!  What goes around, comes around.  


Here is the address to send supplies directly to Amy Keene:


Clark Pest Control

Amy Keene, C/O Richard Keene

180 Eaton Rd Chico, CA 95973



And don't forget to hug your loved ones just a little tighter each day, and tell them that you love them.  Each day is a gift!

- Heidi :)


One Camp Fire Teacher's Story: Where is She Now?



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