Sandra Pal: 'She Is a Very Strong Woman'

03/27/2010 at 09:30 AM EDT

Sandra Pal: 'She Is a Very Strong Woman'
Sandra Bullock
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
As she copes with the crisis that has rocked her marriage, Sandra Bullock has the support of folks in her two adopted hometowns, Austin and New Orleans.

"This kind of thing should never happen to anyone, but especially not to the kind of person she is – good, kind, smart," says architect James Holland, who worked with Bullock on her Austin food shop, Walton's Fancy and Staple. "No one deserves this. Especially not Sandra."

"Everyone is disappointed," says Alexina Medley, the principal at Warren Easton Charter High School in New Orleans, where Bullock was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year for her extensive donations to the school. "But it is a private matter. And she is a strong woman. She is a very strong woman."

Holland, who worked with the actress extensively but has not spoken to her since the scandal, describes the star as "really smart. She has an amazing breadth of knowledge. She'll say, 'Yeah, that's something I saw in New York, or this was something that was on a building in London.' Her mind is always going."



At Warren Easton, "she acts as if all 800-plus of these children are her own," says Medley.

She even brought the school a taste of Hollywood: Earlier this year, after board member Arthur Hardy asked if they could have an advance copy of The Blind Side to reward a group of high-achieving students, "She told me, 'I'm so sorry, but even for you I can't do it,'" Hardy recalls.

"You'd think that would be the end of it, but not for Sandy. She flew in an assistant with a DVD, put him up in a hotel here. I'm sure it cost her a few thousand dollars. The kids got to see it on the AV equipment she bought in the auditorium she rebuilt."

"She has been our angel," says Hardy. "We love her."

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