More than 100 days after hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands, many students are still struggling to get back into regular school routines. Now some educators from Baltimore are trying to help.
These educators have experience helping city students prepare for college, and those skills could help hundreds down in the Caribbean.
Screams of excitement echoed through the hallways of a school in Puerto Rico last week when the power finally came back on 112 days after losing electricity in Hurricane Maria.
Restoring educational services has been one of the biggest challenges since the storms.
“It took time away from them preparing themselves for whatever their post-secondary options were,” said former Baltimore educator Jessica Joseph.
WBAL TV-11 News spoke to Joseph on Skype from Saint Croix. The former Baltimore educator took pictures of damage after the storm. Now, she’s staying to launch the Virgin Island College and Career Access Now program.
“Because of the hurricanes, things slowed down for our seniors. They weren’t able to do everything regular seniors do. So I’m hoping with our organizations, just basically, bring them back on track,” Joseph said.
Melisa Hypolite helps Baltimore high school students get a higher education through the organization College Bound.
“A lot of these students were planning on going to college and then these storms came,” Hypolite said.
In a few weeks, she’s bringing that passion to the Virgin Islands, where some school buildings are still unusable.
Hypolite sees parallels between the struggles of Baltimore students and those impacted by the storms.
“Students shouldn’t feel like they’ve been forgotten about. If you treat them a certain way, they’ll react a certain way. I want these students to know people do care about them,” Hypolite said.
The Baltimore educators are raising money to help them with buy school supplies to hand out during four workshops they’re having in the Virgin Islands in February. You can donate to their GoFundMe page.