2 Guilford County schools ‘stronger together’ after tornado

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- More than five months have passed since a tornado touched down in Greensboro. Several homes and buildings were damaged in east Greensboro, include Erwin Montessori School.

Dr. Deborah Parker has been the principal for Erwin Montessori School for 13 years and said that she's never experienced that kind of trauma that the tornado left on their school, teachers and families.

In a matter of days, students, staff and parents were forced to find a new normal at Alamance Elementary School.

"Even though we were directly impacted, Alamance was impacted as well and I think they too feel as though we’re stronger. They’re sharing; we feel like this is as much as our school now as it is their school. So we are stronger together," Parker said. "So we’ve been able to do those things that make up Montessori, we’ve been able to do those at Alamance and I think Alamance is learning something’s from Erwin and I think Erwin is learning from Alamance so it’s really been a good partnership."

Guilford County Schools spokesperson Nora Shoptaw said that Alamance was a perfect choice because of the extra space with a capacity of 930.

Though under the same roof, Erwin Montessori students and Alamance students operate in their own separate classrooms as normal. The shared spaces for media and lunch offer enough room to comfortably coexist.

Assistant Principal Malaina Seegars is new to Alamance Elementary but said that the parent involvement and community outreach doubled once Erwin joined their facility. The motto "stronger together" seen on shirts following the tornado became a motto for learning in their shared spaces.

"We don’t have to go down the street to collaborate with other teachers about different concepts, we have another school right here in our building," Seegars said.

Shoptaw said that Guilford County commissioners plan to perform a facility assessment on all the schools for needed repairs. Those results and information from insurance will determine further construction details for a possible Erwin Montessori rebuild or repair.