July 19, 2019

Rebuilding & Relief for Puerto Rico

By Ally Jones

Jim McKay, Superintendent at Community High School District 117 in Illinois, has always had a passion for helping students, but that passion extends far past the students in his district and reaches those of Puerto Rico. With Jim’s wife being Puerto Rican, it has always been a place that was near to his heart, so when he saw the devastation done in late 2017 by hurricane Maria, it was an easy decision for him to want to step in and help the students and teachers who were affected. Last year, Jim’s group, Relief Through Leadership, took their first trip down to Puerto Rico where they were able to donate desktops, Chrome Books, and notebooks, repair schools and provide technical assistance.

This year we are so proud at NaviGate Prepared to have been one of the sponsors of the trip, and particularly proud to have been able to send one of our own, Dylan Strasburger, to help in the relief efforts. Here’s what Dylan had to say about his time spent in Puerto Rico:

I had the amazing opportunity, thanks to Thom Jones and Jim McKay, to travel to Puerto Rico and work in an amazing service project with RTL (Relief Through Leadership). Jim McKay and all of the teachers, superintendents, and sponsors that came down to help are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. The amount that they care about the education and future of Puerto Rico is truly inspiring. Everyday another challenge was presented and conquered due to the efforts of everyone in attendance. It didn’t matter if you were teaching, painting, assisting in technological help, or simply filming the actions of the week, we were all there for one incredible purpose. I gained new perspectives but more importantly new friends and experiences I will never forget. That week in Puerto Rico was one of the most amazing times in my life and I hope to continue to help out in anyway that I can. 

The team repaired and painted 5 classrooms in addition to the commons area at Eduardo Garcia Carrillo High School, and even created a spectacular mural!

In addition to the classroom repairs, the team donated a total of 500 computing devices to six schools, and Chicago-area teachers spent time training Puerto Rican teachers on how to integrate technology into their classrooms. Three days of professional development were spent with teachers helping teachers with programs such as Google for Education, Quizlet, Kahoot, Mentimeter, Plickers, and other useful educational tools.

We are so happy to have been able to support Relief through Leadership this year and send Dylan down to put in some work! As Jim has stated in the past, Relief Through Leadership plans to make this trip annually and donate directly to the schools continuously, and we look forward to supporting them on these endeavors.

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Terence Dunleavy

My wife and I joined Dylan during the Relief Though Leadership visit to Puerto Rico last June as sponsors and volunteers. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to lend our support and expertise to this project. The team successfully trained 89 teachers representing thirty-one schools from all over the island. In addition to the service projects completed improving the educational environment at Eduardo Garcia High School, the team established a computer center with over sixty (60) Chromebooks and eight (8) Epson overhead projectors for use in the classrooms. School administrators received desktop computers replacing outdated technology and improving… Read more »