Martin Park Teachers Head Back - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Martin Park Teachers Head Back

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ALEXANDRIA, La. -- Students at Martin Park Elementary, the school that caught fire Friday, will head back to class Tuesday. But, they're not going back to Martin Park - they'll be at the old Lead Center.

And, with just one day to prepare for their arrival, their teachers are hustling to get the classrooms ready.

News Channel Five's Brooke Buford stopped by the Lead Center Monday morning to check up on preparations. She has the story.

Michelle Hay, a 4th grade teacher at Martin Park, usually has a month to get her classroom ready for a new school year. But, after her classroom burned in a fire last week, she now only has one day to prepare a new one for her students at the Lead Center.

"I worried what am I going to do? How am I going to get my stuff?" she asked. "Someone said at least it's not your home. But in a way, for a teacher, your classroom is your home."

Teachers and staff are hustling to transform the building into a temporary school for 400 students. It will serve as their new home until a decision is made on what to do with the damaged Martin Park.

"I think we'll learn as we go," said Cindy Corley, principal of the school. "I think every second we'll learn something new. It's like starting from scratch. All of my teachers, whether it's their first year or they have 30 years of experience, it's starting from scratch."

Hay says other schools have reached out to help them get back on their feet.

"Over the years you accumulate things that you don't use anymore," she said. "Not because it's not any good, just because you choose not to use it anymore. So, a lot of teachers are purging their storage closets and making donations."

Interim Rapides Parish Superintendent Gerald Woodard says he can hardly believe the progress that's been made in such a short amount of time.

"Since Friday morning up until this point, it's just a miracle," he said. "I cannot believe the amount of work that the staff has done. They worked all weekend. They've done a tremendous job. If you had seen where it was at Friday morning and where it's at now, I give all the credit to them."

Right now, Hay tell us the plan for Tuesday is to just take it slow. Her students will be able to ask questions about the fire, learn the halls of the Lead Center and just focus on the new adjustment.

"They are curious and excited at the same time," she said. "It's kind of like the first day of school for them because it's going to be a new environment. They'll see all the old faces, but everything is completely different."

The Alexandria Fire Department is still working on finding a cause for the fire at Martin Park.

The school has also set up an account at Red River Bank to raise money for new supplies. If you would like to donate, just mention the name "Benefit for Martin Park." Donations are tax exempt.

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