Part 3: The Return to Joplin

This is the third part of a three part series by public school early childhood special education teacher, Debby Guardino, from Chesapeake, VA. After raising funds and educational material through, and her personal social networks, Hipmunk helped her travel to Joplin, MO to meet the teachers she’d been working with, deliver the donated supplies, and see the damage and relief efforts. 

With an invitation extended by Joplin Schools to attend the teachers’ “Opening Day Ceremonies” and students’ “Back to School Celebration,” I began planning for my return trip to Joplin. While I was hopeful that every teacher’s project would receive enough funds, I knew there were no guarantees. With the help of some targeted marketing from, friends, family and the help of social networking sites, projects began funding and donations started to soar. Currently, over $400,000 in donations to classroom projects was generated and over 500 Joplin classroom projects funded.

My return trip to Joplin was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Visiting schools and new facilities set up for those destroyed by the tornado demonstrated the resilience and determination of Joplin School Administrators. As I met with teachers, they reported again and again about their success with They described the hope they felt as they started the new school year with their eyes fixed on the future, never forgetting the lessons learned from the past 87 days.

 As an educator, the most rewarding part was seeing the happy, hope-filled faces of children returning the first day of school. Walking into the Duesquene Elementary cafeteria, I was greeted by an orange slice smile provided by one of the first graders enjoying her breakfast. 


At that point I knew that Joplin kids were finally returning to a sense of “normalcy.” While there are many challenges ahead, Joplin Schools have done their part to create a “Bright Future” for their students.

If you are interested in helping a Joplin teachers’ project please follow the link to  

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