CYPRESS — Before one of Houston’s most-recognizable meteorologists spent the day discussing hurricanes, watersheds and flooding with Aragon Middle School science classes, Campus Content Instructional Specialist Stephanie Castro was just simply scrolling through her Twitter timeline.
Little did the CCIS for science at Aragon know that would lead to bringing real-world learning to her students.
But it did – Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, spent Nov. 16 speaking to all seventh-grade students. It’s part of the new shift in his job, Lindner said, but a welcoming part after Hurricane Harvey to help inform students and establish positive habits as it pertains to dealing with inclement weather.
“Sort of like wearing your seat belt – it becomes a habit,” said Lindner, who became widely recognizable in the Houston area for his calm demeanor during numerous television appearances as Hurricane Harvey and the ensuing flooding inundated the city.
His actions even earned Lindner his own day (May 2) in Houston from Mayor Sylvester Turner.
“It’s some of the basic principles that if you start young, they’ll remember the ‘turn around, don’t drown’ saying, they’ll know to have flood insurance, they’ll understand what watershed they live in. Just things that some adults still don’t know.”
Castro helped bring Lindner to the campus, though it started on a whim.
As she describes it, Castro was simply scrolling through her Twitter feed.
Aragon seventh-grade students were learning about watersheds when Castro saw a tweet proclaiming another school and its students did the same thanks in part to a presentation from Lindner.
“So I thought, ‘That’s interesting. I wonder if he’d come to our school?’” Castro said.
Community and school outreach presentations were a small part of Lindner’s job with the flood control district, which states its mission as providing flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values. He even presented to CFISD classrooms and at professional development sessions before earning his fame, but requests have increased since Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s like a new job,” he said.
Castro emailed her inquiry to the district, quickly getting a response – to her surprise – and coordinating dates for the visit. Nov. 16 was actually Plan B – Hurricane Michael hit Florida in October and Lindner was among the personnel that traveled there to assist. The later date was still timely for Aragon students, who were studying a unit on catastrophic events.
Lindner discussed the different levels of storms and how they’re named, watersheds in Houston, storm surge and flood preparation. He even described Houston TranStar, the emergency operations hub from which agencies coordinate storm-response efforts, comparing the 98-chair space to NASA’s mission control.
Unlike previous storms and weather events, the long stretch of time Harvey spent over the Houston area made reporting on and dealing with it different, Lindner said. The addition of social media and a 24-hour news cycle kept most residents watching or following along.
“Harvey was just different,” he said. “I didn’t see the same thing after the floods we had in 2015 and 2016. Harvey and the effects have just been different and I think it’s because Harvey impacted so many of us. So many of us watched it for five days sitting at home and watched it on television. Being able to talk about Harvey and talk about flooding means a lot more right now because people were so engaged in it for such a long period of their lives.”
Each session ended with questions from the students.
“It’s not just that we as teachers are telling the students the information,” Castro said. “It’s actually somebody in Houston and somebody who is here, lives here, works here and you can see on TV here. It’s putting that real-world application into what we’re teaching.”
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