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Utilizing teachers to enhance student recovery through emergency educational programming: A case study analysis of Hurricane Maria

Monique Wheeler, MS, Fiona Donovan


Emergency educational programing after disasters contributes to the physical, cognitive, and psychological protection of students when they are at their most vulnerable. The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies framework details the need to incorporate specific domains throughout implementation and asserts that teachers and educational institutions play a significant role in supporting disaster-affected youth in the classroom. Following the detrimental impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, teachers became critical agents for maintaining the well-being of children at school, so the goals of this analysis are to (1) examine teachers’ post-hurricane experiences to find out how the event impacted physical teaching environments and students’ learning capacity, (2) investigate how teachers adapted and developed lesson plans to facilitate students’ processing of the event, and (3) explore what resources, training, and emotional support teachers needed to continue their work in the classroom post-disaster. Findings reveal how teachers assumed the role of first responders to restore their physical learning spaces, improvised classroom activities, and discussions to aid in students’ cognitive and emotional recovery, and found ways to navigate and address the psychological needs of learners following this traumatic event. This research will contribute to an increased understanding of how teachers can be utilized to enhance students’ recovery through the successful implementation of emergency educational programing.


Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico, education, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), children, schools, disaster recovery

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