Schools a lifeline amid floods

Schools and early learning centres have been community hubs providing a sense of safety and normality to students and their families following the devastating flooding in the northern rivers region.

Teachers and support staff have continued teaching children, even when their own homes have been inundated. Some schools and early learning centres resumed classes just days after the waters receded, using makeshift premises.

Art teacher and IEU member Vicky Purser, of the newly opened Living School on Conway Street in the heart of Lismore, said founding Principal John Stewart had done an “amazing job” reopening the school so soon after its premises were flooded.

Living School is a progressive school with an emphasis on sustainability and building “good humans”. It runs to intentionally different six-week terms.

Staff lifted all the equipment onto the second floor before the flooding began. Local cafes and restaurants also stored their fridges and other equipment in the school.

Vicky said it was ”horrible’’ hearing the school was going under water. Little did she know that her own home in Wardell, a village just south of Lismore, was soon to follow.

“Six months ago we moved into a 100-year-old weatherboard home that had never been flooded,” she said.

“We never considered that it would flood.”

Her family had to evacuate for a week and the house now requires major renovations.

Living School managed to find temporary premises at Lennox Head Rugby Club, where it is running an “amazing program” for the students Vicky said.

It will then continue operating out of Southern Cross University for some months while renovations take place. Luckily all Vicky’s art equipment was moved into a bus and driven out of the area before the flood began.

“Joining in the end-of-term celebrations, getting together with other staff and students, it’s been a positive thing for everybody. The community is determined to rebuild the school and keep going.”

Sue Osborne