Troy University ACCESS teachers volunteer for tornado victims

Posted: Tuesday, 03 May 2011

TROY— More than 139 high school teachers are volunteering their time and talents to keep the state’s high-school distance learning system in operation, according to a Troy University administrator.

TROY operates one of three support centers statewide for the Alabama Connecting Classrooms Educators and Students Statewide (ACCESS) program. ACCESS provides a variety of courses via distance learning to all public high schools in the state. The two northern support centers were impacted by tornadoes that struck the state last week.

“Thursday, we received word from the Alabama State Department of Education that of the three ACCESS offices in the state, ours was the only one functioning as the other two had been affected by the tornadoes,” said ACCESS director Reba Davis. “We were now responsible for taking calls for the entire state, until the other two offices are able to function again. We welcomed the chance to help out our fellow Alabamians.”

And help they did. By Friday, Davis said Education officials had determined that so many students still needed to finish up ACCESS courses for the approaching end of semester, and that so many students and teachers had been impacted by the storms, it would be difficult to operate with some existing ACCESS teachers in the northern two-thirds of the state. A contingency plan was put in place to secure substitute teachers for the classes in which the regular teachers had not been located.

“The State Department ACCESS team wanted to be sure that no children would fail a class because of the storm,” Davis said. “They asked the TROY ACCESS office to find volunteers to finish teaching the classes.”

The substitutes would receive no extra pay, but within a minute of sending a mass email to the TROY ACCESS teachers, the first volunteer was found, and in under an hour, almost 70 ACCESS teachers in southern Alabama had volunteered.

“ACCESS teachers responded with compassion for those affected by the storms, and with a willingness to help out their fellow teachers, and students,” Davis said. “When the Alabama State Department of Education requested help from the Troy University ACCESS Support Center area, they were met with an unexpected number of dedicated, generous teachers who wanted to help the children of Alabama.”

“The Troy University ACCESS Support Center trained the teachers to teach on-line, we knew the quality of our teachers was high. Now we know the quality of their hearts is equally high,” she said.