Principal, Royal Heights Elementary in Joplin Public School District
An educational leader who has been active in the education community in Fulton, Missouri and now in Joplin, Missouri, Jill is known across Missouri due to her work with the Missouri Service-Learning Network and national service programs such as AmeriCorps. Her background as a school-based national service program director came in handy when Joplin was struck by a devastating F5 tornado in May 2011.
"Since the hour after the storm, we, as a school district, have been reacting to a situation that is so far out of our normal routine," Jill said shortly after the tornado. "The initial response was to use our student information system to reach out to each and every family of the 7,500 students in the district. We worked for several days to account for 100 percent of our student population. While that work was going on, the surrounding communities and the nation began to send supplies to our families in need. I took over the management of our donations and distribution center starting the Monday after the storm. Previous training as an AmeriCorps director gave me some notion of the organization that would be required in this disaster situation.
"Within 36 hours we were a fully operational distribution center with a gymnasium serving as a warehouse. We had hand carts and pallet jacks from food service, the cafeteria providing meals for round- the-clock volunteers, our own donations phone line, and a complete stock of necessity items to distribute to the community.
We served several hundred families and provided them with items like clean underwear, food, safe shoes, cleaning supplies, chain saws, tarps, toys, household items, hygiene items, baby beds, car seats, you name it – we had it!
"The 2011-12 school year in Joplin, Missouri will be like none we have ever experienced. The usual things we can assume about budget, enrollment, student and staff health, the things we can always expect to expect, were literally blown out the window by a 250-mph wind. We are trying our best to be proactive and do whatever it takes to meet the needs of our community. Right now, that means ensuring that our students have a safe and stable place to go to school."
To help with long-term needs of the citizens of Joplin, Jill recommends following the Joplin Schools page on Facebook, There you can ask questions and keep up with the latest needs and make your contribution in the most informed way.
You are also invited to take the action described at the end of this riveting video from the storm.