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Extended Family, Former Colleagues Reach Out to Aid Spring ISD Recovery Efforts

Skylar Watson and sister Makayla Watson help present their school’s donation to Spring ISD
Skylar Watson, from left, and sister Makayla Watson help present their school’s donation to Spring ISD.

Students and staff at Mason Elementary School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, who recently completed a fundraising drive to help Harvey victims.
Students and staff at Mason Elementary School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, who recently completed a fundraising drive to help Harvey victims.

HOUSTON - Sept. 27, 2017 - For the students and staff of Mason Elementary School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Hurricane Harvey hit closer to home than any weather map could show. They knew that Spring ISD Superintendent Rodney Watson, a former resident of the area with family ties in Lee’s Summit and former colleagues still working in the local school system there, was now head of a district directly impacted by Harvey, and that his district had put out a call for help.

“It really started with the kids,” said Mason Elementary Principal Beth Ratty, who has known Watson since the two were both fledgling principals in Lee’s Summit and in the neighboring Hickman Mills school district. “The students saw the news and heard about what happened, and they wanted to do something,” she said. “So we started a loose change drive and it grew from there.”

The initial fundraising drive grew in scope and in turn inspired others to contribute to the cause, ultimately leading to a donation last week of $3,087 to Spring ISD’s hurricane relief fund. Administrators at Mason announced the culmination of the fundraiser with a photo on Twitter featuring teachers and students, including Watson’s two nieces who now attend the school.

“I was so proud and honored by Mason Elementary’s donation,” Watson said. “Their support for the people of this community really warmed my heart, and of course it made me so happy to see the picture they sent with my nieces holding the sign, sending us a message of love and generosity.”

Although its efforts are often more locally focused, the Missouri school has a tradition of reaching out and helping those in need.

“We usually pick two or three campaigns each year,” Ratty said, ”usually with some connection to the school – a student’s family in need of assistance, a staff member facing an unexpected illness, or a case like this where the kids really want to do something to help.”

That sense of connection helps get students excited about raising money and giving to others, and Ratty said it helped drive the fundraising for those affected by Harvey.

“It does make it all a little more personal,” she said. “We knew exactly where the funds were going, and we knew it would go directly to help families. It’s just one community supporting another.”