September 29, 2017
Jessica Hernandez (red top), Emmott Elementary School principal, poses with White Oak Bend subdivision representatives Jeff Reese (left), Pat Greenwood, Petrece Podlesney and Jim Podlesney after the subdivision’s homeowners association board of directors presented a check for $10,000 to the neighboring school.
Sept. 29, 2017—Emmott Elementary School Principal Jessica Hernandez was already busy, working through the first day of school and getting her staff and students back up to speed after Hurricane Harvey postponed classes by two weeks.
Then, as the first day was ending, she was called from her duties to meet with the homeowners association board of directors from neighboring White Oak Bend. The board was in contact with both Emmott and Bang elementary schools, which service the White Oak Bend subdivision, prior to the hurricane about giving back and supporting the schools.
They surprised each school with a $10,000 check.
“I was speechless and just sat there thanking them so much for the generosity to our campus,” Hernandez said.
Said Bang Principal Erwann Wilson: “When the board came to bring us their huge donation, many of my staff was shedding tears of joy.”
Among the members of the board of directors were James and Petrece Podlesney, two long-time White Oak Bend residents. Their daughter, Theresa Lynn, is a first-grade teacher at Postma Elementary, which received a donation and spawned the idea for White Oak Bend’s gifts. Two of their grandchildren are students at Emmott.
“We had a little bit of extra money at the end of the year and we wanted to do something that would benefit the children in our subdivision,” Petrece Podlesney said. “So other than throwing a party up at the park, we thought something that would benefit their education would be so much better.”
The donations are going right to the students. At Bang, which is a blended learning initiative school, it will help fund a “Brain Lab.”
“It really means a lot to us to have the support of our community and have them stand alongside us to help our students increase opportunities to demonstrate their learning,” Wilson said.
And it isn’t one sided. Just as Hernandez assured board members the donation is going to the students, she said there are plans to push giving back to the community.
“People do for us,” Hernandez said. “Now what can we do for our community? We try to make sure they know that it goes full circle.”