Brunswick teacher named 'Hero' for hurricane relief efforts

View The Original Article Here

Lincoln Elementary will receive $10,000 from NC Education Lottery

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Elise Barrett knows a thing or two about saving money and stocking up.

A teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Brunswick County, she works to make the most of her earnings by extreme couponing. Those skills came in handy and helped her assist the community after Hurricane Florence last fall.

The N.C. Education Lottery announced that for her efforts, Barrett was selected as one of 10 “School Heroes” from across the state. More than 6,500 educators were nominated for the honor.

Barrett said that when Hurricane Florence was bearing down, she took a look at the goods she had painstakingly stockpiled. At the time, she and her husband were living in an older home in downtown Wilmington. They didn’t think it would fare well during the storm.

Barrett sits on the board of Port City Volunteer and Disaster Relief, an organization that has been assisting other communities affected by natural disasters. Before she evacuated, she made the decision to take her stockpile to the group’s warehouse in downtown Wilmington.

After riding out the storm in Georgia, the couple returned home. After days without power, mold had grown throughout the house, and it was infested with bugs. Two days after they returned, someone attempted to break into their home. As Barrett assessed her own circumstances, she thought about what others were facing.

“I knew that if my conditions were like this, it was likely that a lot of my students’ were a lot worse,” she said.

So, she headed for the warehouse and began distributing the supplies she had stockpiled. She took in donations and continued her extreme couponing with the few supplies left in the city. Those were distributed, as well. Barrett connected with Operation Air Drop and began accepting truckloads of supplies from Virginia to help meet the needs. At that point, Barrett knew she had enough support to host a distribution at Lincoln Elementary.

Before the supply drive, Barrett made a post on social media asking for volunteers to help cook pancakes so that families who had not had a warm meal in days could enjoy one.

“I thought pancakes would be easy,” she said. “We had griddles and pancakes going. Denny’s actually heard about what we were doing and delivered pancakes, bacon, and eggs in to-go boxes for families, too.”

Throughout the day, Barrett said they gave out “tons and tons” of cleaning supplies, gently used clothes, food, and even some furniture. After the drive, she packed boxes for teachers across Brunswick County Schools to ensure sure they could help their students in need.

For her efforts, Barrett received $10,000 from the lottery for her school. She plans to use the funds to help improve student safety by implementing a new car-rider system at Lincoln.

Barrett is finishing her third year at Lincoln Elementary School. She said despite the recent struggles, she’s thankful to be part of the community. While she’s proud of the honor and the work of her colleagues at Lincoln Elementary, she insists that she was just doing what comes naturally to her.

“When I see people who need help, I go for it,” Barrett said. “I’m a teacher, and even when I’m off the clock, I have a duty and a responsibility to help my students and families.”

Reporter Renee Spencer can be reached at 910-343-2364 or