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HMJ Teacher Helps Evacuate Families from Floodwaters
09/08/2017
 Michael Knight, seventh grade math teacher at Horace Mann Junior, waits for an answer from a student during a lesson. After days of evacuating numerous families from the floodwaters caused by Harvey, his first week back as a teacher has been relatively calm.
Photo by Susan Passmore
Michael Knight, seventh grade math teacher at Horace Mann Junior, waits for an answer from a student during a lesson. After days of evacuating numerous families from the floodwaters caused by Harvey, his first week back as a teacher has been relatively calm.

 HMJ Teacher Helps Evacuate Families from Floodwaters 

By: Susan Passmore

We Are All Family Texas Graphic

When a friend posted on Facebook that his truck was flooded out, Horace Mann Junior School math teacher Michael Knight asked if he needed help. The friend Jose Carino asked how he was going to get him out.

“Just me being me, I was going to get to him, because that was what he needed. I knew he was on the bayou, and with the overflow, I could launch a boat. I launched it in a ditch and was able to go down the street. There were already several boats underway,” said Knight.

The rescue was successful, but Knight saw that others needed help down Bayou Blvd. that leads into the Whispering Pines subdivision. Knight coordinated with the City of Baytown EOC to evacuate people, and the next morning, he received a call from the EOC, so he was off again to join the rescue crews. The second day, he worked the Pinehurst area, and Leo Ryza, Goose Creek CISD maintenance supervisor, and his dog were among others grateful to be safely brought out of the neighborhood. Then, it was on to North Main Street to assess the situation there and lend a hand. Although Knight’s not sure how many people he evacuated during the week, he knows that he and the others made a difference with each one.

“It’s hard to describe everything that happened. At this point, it’s still kind of a blur. I made sure my family was safe. The first day, I took a couple of people who’d evacuated back in to get things they’d forgotten, like medicine. Of course, I had my own list of people, but everywhere I looked there was someone else needing help. Some friends I went to Sterling with were running boats with me. It’s really not about me – it’s about what we did as a community,” Knight said.

Knight explained that people were confused and didn’t know what to do after they were rescued.

“We got them to high ground, dropped them off and someone took care of them. We had pets, wheelchairs and all kinds of things. Many former Goose Creek students were giving back to the community. It was teamwork,” Knight said.

Knight gives credit to Bobby Workman, Justin Dockery, Tommy Wood and many others, especially former Goose Creek CISD students, for their heroic efforts during the flooding. When the worst was over, in his typical style, Knight worked to clear out other people’s houses before he worried about his own.

It wasn’t the way he planned to start the school year, but at least it wasn’t his first year of teaching. Before spending the past five years in the U.S. Army, stationed at Ft. Polk, La., Knight taught three years at Gentry Junior School.

“Being in the military had been one of my goals. I lived that experience, and now as a teacher, I can answer questions about the military as a career option. I also learned selfless service, one of the seven army values. It doesn’t matter about you, it’s how you can help others,” Knight said.

His military training helped Knight have personal courage when it came to taking others to safety through the floodwaters, but he had also received similar training at home.

“Thinking back about it, my parents taught me to help others. That’s what life is about. That’s what makes you sleep at night. That’s why I like teaching – it’s all about helping students,” Knight said.

Besides his math curriculum, Knight returned to the classroom with some new experiences that just might benefit his students at Horace Mann Junior.

“We want to teach kids about being productive members of society,” Knight said. “If they see me as someone who helps their friend’s cousin’s parents out, it’s a step in the right direction.”
     

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