Sonora (CBS13) – A fire damaged more than a dozen classrooms at a local elementary school over Thanksgiving break. Now teachers are drawing up new lesson plans to learn.

Teachers returned to work at Sonora Elementary School Monday to get the temporary classrooms ready.

“Everything you see on these desks are all donated materials for the kids,” said fifth grade teacher Sally McClellan.

Community members opened up their hearts and wallets by donating school supplies and texts books so children in the 15 classrooms damaged by flames could return to school.

A 17-year-old is accused of setting a trash can fire that quickly spread to an entire building. The suspected act of arson destroyed McClellan’s classroom.

“When I walked up to the door and saw an empty black shell of a room, and standing water, and the ceiling coming down, I knew everything had changed,” she said.

McClellan’s class of 26 will now learn in a portable classroom.

“I came here with nothing and I have a classroom,” said McClellan.

Partitions are up where other students will share larger classrooms, while some have been moved to the library.

“Our goal was to keep everybody on site,” said Principal Chris Boyles. “We didn’t want to bus kids to different schools in the county.”

Seven classrooms are closed indefinitely, and it may take weeks to clear the rest of the damage caused by smoke.

An army of volunteers were helping teachers start from scratch. A parent has already replaced McClellan’s classroom mascot.

“Our class mascot was the golden lion and this guy right here is the reincarnation of the golden lion, because the first one got burned in the fire,” she said.

While teachers are working on the road to recovery, they’re hopeful children will learn a lesson in rebuilding.

“I’m going to do everything I can to build a family, and to build security and a good feeling, like the kids are taken care of. It’s safe here; it’s going to be OK,” said McClellan.

Donations continue to pour in. A local business even offered to replace classroom libraries. Parents have also created wish lists for people wanting to donate school supplies for students and teachers.


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