Junior high teacher adjusts to new campus, life


Trinity Norwood

Leigh Martin helps students in her Robotics class.

Cheyenne Pucheta and Grace Tally

Getting back to normal after a catastrophe that has shaken the state and changed people’s lives forever is never easy, especially when having to stay strong and optimistic for the students and other members of the community.

Little Cypress Junior High Robotics teacher Leigh Martin is one of many district teachers adjusting to a new lifestyle and schedule after the devastation of Tropical Storm Harvey. Her home and classroom were damaged from the flood waters, as well as the entire campuses of the junior high, Little Cypress Elementary, Mauriceville Middle School, and Mauriceville Elementary.

Martin and her colleagues are having to share classrooms and a campus with the high school staff until the junior high and middle school students are able to return to their respective campuses.

“The (high school) teachers have all been kind and generous in sharing their rooms and supplies,” Martin said of working on a different campus.

Even with all that has happened, she still manages to get to her job at 7:15 every morning in order to start class at 7:30. While she misses her usual 8 a.m. arrival time and having her supplies in a closet instead of a cart, Martin still keeps a positive attitude. As far as her curriculum goes, she has had to adjust what she teaches with Robotics.

“My LEGO kits are at the junior high,” Martin said. “Intro to technology is no longer a full year but a semester so the order I teach things and the amount of time I spend on each thing is having to change.”

Along with the changes Martin has faced in her work environment, she has also had to deal with the flooding of her own home.

“We left our house on Tuesday the 29th at about 7:30 p.m.,” Martin said. “Water came in around 6:30 p.m. It only took a short time for the water to cover our entire floor with about two inches of water. We left and went to my mother-in-law’s house, who lives about a mile away on FM 1078. If we had left any later, my car would not have made it across our little bayou gully that is next to the house or made it over Adams Bayou.”

We have a very ‘open concept’ home now.”

— Leigh Martin

Martin is currently staying with family members because of the extensive damage to her house, which included 20 inches inside the house itself and 18 inches in her garage.

“We have a very ‘open concept’ home now,” she said.

During the storm, Martin said she received help from several members of her church, who donated cleaning supplies. Family members and friends also helped with the demolition of her house, and she received a lot of support from her older brother.

“(He) is a commander of a Marine Reserve unit that was here in the area to help with rescues (making sure that the nursing homes in Port Arthur were cleared was one thing – my husband’s grandmother was in one of those) and to make sure roads were safe and passable. The day we started cleaning out our house we got to see him and his unit at Northway.”

Even though Martin’s house was damaged, she still volunteered to help others in the area who were going through the same traumatic experiences.

“There were four different trucks that went into the water at Adams Bayou on FM 1078,” Martin said. “We were outside and trying to keep people from going in. Each time it happened, the truck stopped and the current swept them into a pasture and a fence. We helped pull six men, two women, a baby, and three dogs out of those four trucks.”

Despite not being able to live in her own home or teach in her own classroom, Martin, as well as the rest of the junior high and middle school teachers, has maintained a positive attitude. Although she and others are adjusting well, she is also anticipating the return to her house and campus.

“(My plan is to) rebuild the inside of my house and get back to normal,” she said.