Teachers return to classrooms 8 months after tornado damages school

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Teachers at Mintonye Elementary are back in the school for the first time since a tornado hit the school last year.

It’s been more than eight months since first grade teacher Michelle Helms has been in her classroom.

“Today is the first day that I got to come back and start to go through the boxes and unpack,” Helms said.

Helms had to pack up her classroom when a tornado heavily damaged parts of the school last November.

“That was real hard to come in and see,” Helms said. “Students’ works were just scattered everywhere because the wind moved it around.”

After that, Mintonye classrooms were set up at First Assembly Community Ministries while crews worked to repair the school.

“We all just seemed to do what we had to do and move on,” she said. “There were lessons to teach and things to learn, and there was no time to just feel sorry for yourself. You had to keep going.”

Now, teachers like Helms are moving back into their classrooms.

“It feels comfortable,” Helms said about her classroom. “It feels exciting and scary all at the same time knowing that we don’t have many more days until the kids are here.”

Helms said she’s looking forward to welcoming new students Aug. 13 and starting fresh in Room 5.

“I look forward to this just being a memory. I look forward to just getting back into our routine and moving on and putting this all behind us,” Helms said.

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