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Education Commissioner Glass visits tornado-impacted school districts in western Kentucky

Dawson Springs Independent Superintendent Leonard Whalen showed Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass the destruction in Dawson Springs from the December 2021 tornadoes. Dawson Springs Independent is continuing to clean up the community and find homes for displaced students and families. Photo by Jacqueline Thompson, March 1, 2022

(FRANKFORT, KY) – Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass and Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) Chair Lu S. Young visited several western Kentucky school districts on March 1 and 2 that were impacted by the Dec. 2021 tornados.

Glass received a warm welcome from students and staff at Earlington Elementary (Hopkins County), where stories were shared about the days after the storms and the resiliency that followed. Earlington Elementary Principal Julie Vaughn, who is in her first year in the role, said after the school first addressed the needs of its students and families, they then turned to help the whole community.

The school became a communitywide distribution center in the county, distributing donated clothing, food and hygiene and other products. Vaughn described how the community came together to show strength in the face of tragedy and how they have recovered so far.

“It started off very simple and small scale, and then grew,” said Vaughn. “We had schedules where our different administrators would come and help lead, we utilized our sports teams and student groups, and then the community started pouring in with donations.”

District students and staff helped organize a massive amount of donations into a “department store,” said Hopkins County Superintendent Amy Smith, organizing items by type and size. A local marketplace donated shopping carts so community members could collect everything they needed.

“It gave them some sense of normalcy,” said Smith. “We had to comfort and listen and ensure them we’re here to help and support.”

One student from Hopkins County Central High School shared her experience helping community members shop for what they needed and how appreciative she felt during the process.