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Thomas Jefferson High School teachers pull double duty preparing to go back to school Wednesday

The high school was destroyed in Sunday's tornado, so students and staff will relocate to Thomas Edison Middle School for the remainder of the school year.

DALLAS — After a tornado severely damaged Thomas Jefferson High School on Sunday night, teachers and district staff had to think quickly about how to get students back to school.

On Wednesday, the high school students will start classes again at Thomas Edison Middle School, about 10 miles south of where they’d normally attend class.

“It is a blank canvas in here right now for me,” said art teacher Laura Hanel. “They are pounding it out right now for everybody.”

Dallas ISD crews worked quickly Tuesday to get the old middle school prepared for students again – everything from rearranging classrooms to mowing the front lawn.

Earlier in the day, Hanel and several other Thomas Jefferson teachers took to the streets around their school to talk to students, still without power, about the changes coming.

“I really wanted them to know that we were there for them. It's been a really hard couple of days, I'm sure, so we are here, I want them to know that their school is ready for them,” Hanel said.

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She ran into her old student, Brenda Davila, who took art for two years.

“It makes me feel a little bit more comfortable seeing a familiar face,” Davila said.

Nearly 1,900 students go to Thomas Jefferson, and all of them will be moved for the remainder of the school year.

The building is still not safe to enter, and Hanel doesn’t know what her old classroom looks like.

“I'm hopeful that when we are able to go back in, that I can salvage a few things for my students, mainly their work,” she said. “I think that's the hardest part, just losing everything.”

She planned to work late into the night Tuesday to get her new classroom set up. She also prepared to listen to students and help them get back to normal.

“We need to help them rebuild there, whatever we can help them rebuild,” Hanel said.

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