Nine-year-old Lina Mooney’s grandfather gave her a $50 bill for her birthday. She gave it away to Timmerman School.
“I wanted to buy myself something, but I thought my school’s a lot more important than myself,” she said.
Her fourth-grade classmate, 10-year-old Dylan Herd, made donation boxes to set up in some local businesses.
Nine-year-old Anthony Szari pulled $150 from his savings account to donate to his school. His fourth-grade teacher cried when he handed it to her.
The independent Christian Timmerman School, which sits on Eightmile Branch, on Atascadero Drive in Forest Acres, has received lots of love and help in the three weeks since several inches of water flooded the school.
The day after the flood, more than 100 volunteers came to the school to start the clean-up process – staff, parents and grandparents, former students, local public and independent schools and businesses from all around the community. Students from Greenwood Christian School even drove down to help.
I wanted to buy myself something, but I thought my school’s a lot more important than myself.
Nine-year-old Lina Mooney
The flood has been a teaching and learning opportunity for the school and its 300 students, principal Liz Jordan said. Not only have the children gotten to see what it means to “love thy neighbor,” but the flood was an opportunity “to let them know that we are not in control. ... And it takes things like this to get our minds thinking straight again.”
“A lot of good is coming from this,” Jordan said. “It’s good for the children to see that things happen, but you can always persevere, and you can always make some lemonade out of lemons.”
Despite the destruction to their campus, Timmerman’s students were able to return to learning even before some Richland County public school students thanks to two local churches – that “don’t know us from Adam,” Jordan said – that opened their doors to Timmerman.
Since last Monday, one week after the flood, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in downtown Columbia has hosted the school’s preschool and kindergarten classes, while first through eighth-graders are meeting at Crossings Community Church on Clemson Road.
The Crossings pastor, Paul Pepin, has told the school he doesn’t want the children to leave, Jordan said. “Their words were, ‘This church doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to God. And God would say come right on in,’” Jordan said.
But both students and staff are eager to get back home to Timmerman. “My school’s important to me. It helps me learn,” Mooney said. “... I like my personal area. ... I also miss the tire swing.”
Jordan said she’s hopeful students might be back in the school by the end of next week. But there’s still work to be done before teachers can move back into their classrooms.
It’s good for the children to see that things happen, but you can always persevere, and you can always make some lemonade out of lemons.
Liz Jordan, Timmerman School principal
Hundreds of books – textbooks, workbooks, library books – were lost to water damage. It was unfortunate timing that the school had just begun reorganizing its book supply room the week before the flood and had stacked many books on the floor for organization.
Computer units and tablets that had been sitting on the floor, school supplies, curriculum materials and items from some students’ lower-level lockers also were lost to the flood.
Flooring had to be replaced throughout the school. On Thursday, blue tile was being laid in the cafeteria, with a new Timmerman “T” pattern laid in the center of the room.
The floodwaters had carried away the school’s brand-new picnic tables. They still are nowhere to be found. And they moved the school’s Dumpster across the parking lot.
But of all the items that were unmoved by the flood was a flimsy outdoor bench that Jordan had been trying to get rid of for two years. “It did not move one iota,” Jordan said. “I said, ‘My mother’s sitting in it.’ She was sitting in it defying that water!” Jordan’s late mother, June Timmerman, founded the school 61 years ago out of her own den.
Jordan can’t get rid of that bench now.
“I know Mom was right behind me all the time (in the aftermath of the flood) going, ‘OK, that’s right. Do that. Do that, and then make sure you get this,’” Jordan said. “It’s very important to me that my children come back ... to something even better. And they are.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.