Community / Press Release

Teacher seeks school supplies for students in small South Pacific island

lorena and julia semaan
Montreal - Thursday, November 2, 2023

Lorena D’Alessandro, a  veteran teacher of 44 years from the English  Montreal School Board’s Alternative Outreach Secondary System, is seeking donations of school supplies for students in the South Pacific island of Aitutaki.

Ms. D’Alessandro will return there in mid-November. Last year she travelled to the area for the first time and was asked to visit a school and observe a few special needs students.  “I spent the day with a teacher, Reta Takai, who spoke to me about the difficulties that she and the staff were experiencing with certain students,” she explained. “Reta has one student who has ASD and is very low functioning and he is her only student. She said that they are seeing more students with learning difficulties and are not equipped to deal with them. For Reta, this is a major problem for staff and especially the students. Their consultant visits only once a year.  The other issue is basic school supplies are hard to come by. Anything that needs to be ordered comes from New Zealand within a few months, if at all.”

The biggest need, said  D’Alessandro,  are blackboard paint, paint supplies, scissors, staplers, staple guns, staples, colored paper, pouches for laminators and white board markers ( laptops, iPads ). The second biggest need is any resource  material  that can be helpful to both staff and their special needs students.

“I can only imagine the challenges these remote schools face with limited resources,”  D’Alessandro says. “The people of Aitutaki welcomed me with open arms. Their hospitality, warmth, and love for their community is inspiring. I hope that by reaching out to the EMSB community I can generate enough interest in the form of donations  to pay for the extra luggage I will be bringing, any surplus school supplies that are not being used, and tools to help with the special needs students there.” 

Ms. D’Alessandro started teaching in 1979.  She worked for several years in different high schools and the social affairs  system.  Then in 2003 she was asked if she’d be interested in being the Head Teacher for Perspectives High School in St. Michel where she remains today. She can be reached at  or 514-798-2136.

About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at

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