Educators from 100% of our public schools gathered in Champions Square
On Friday, May 5th, over 1,750 educators gathered for food, drink, dancing, and celebration in Champions Square for the 2nd annual NOLA Teacher Fest presented by New Schools for New Orleans and the Allstate Sugar Bowl New Orleans Teacher Community.
We host NOLA Teacher Fest each year because we know that teachers work incredibly hard, and we believe they deserve the chance to relax, enjoy one another’s company, and celebrate the school year. We also believe that such events are an integral part of one of the Allstate Sugar Bowl NOLA Teacher Community’s biggest goals: making New Orleans the best place in the country to teach. We’re focused on the recruitment and retention of great educators, and part of that means celebrating them.
NSNO’s Director of Teacher Support, Dr. Jahquille Ross, led planning for the event. He connected with educators for their input, and he set out to create an experience that prioritized community, celebration, and fun. All educators–teachers, paraprofessionals, coaches, and school staff–were invited, and we had enormous response and interest. RSVPs reached capacity a few days before the event, representing 100% of the public schools in the city.
We are proud to say the event was a huge success. We heard great music from the Brass-a-holics, DJ Jess, DJ Jubilee, DJ Polo, Tonya Boyd Cannon, Chiara Nicole, and Hot Boy Ronald. Teachers danced, celebrated, played lawn games, and enjoyed free food and drinks.
NSNO CEO Dana Peterson formally thanked educators, as did NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Avis Williams. We were also joined by special guests like Jeff Hundley, CEO of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, as well as his team and the College Football Playoff Foundation team (and their fun mascot).
We owe immense gratitude to our many sponsors for making this event possible. We couldn’t have done it without the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which has generously pledged $1 million over the next five years to the Allstate Sugar Bowl NOLA Teacher Community, as well as the The College Football Playoff Foundation, Entergy, The Booth-Bricker Fund, and The Pro Bono Publico Foundation.
Thanks to Allstate Sugar Bowl and the College Football Playoff Foundation, we were able to hand out $65,000 in gifts and raffle prizes for educators, including DonorsChoose gift cards, Nike gift cards, and t-shirts.
Educators told us they had a great time. In our post event-survey, around 95% of respondents rated their “amount of fun” as high or very high on our scale, and around 90% gave high or very high ratings for feeling valued and appreciated as an educator.
One educator wrote that it was an “incredible way to both build team and community within our own school AND to reconnect with other educators throughout the city. Does not happen enough. Thank you all at NSNO for the hospitality and love.”
Another said, “I just moved to New Orleans last July but have been in education for [years]…I have never experienced anything like teacher fest. It is always nice to genuinely feel appreciated.”
We were thrilled that educators enjoyed themselves. We also know that celebrations are just one of many ways we must support our teachers. The Allstate Sugar Bowl NOLA Teacher Community also sponsors the New Orleans Teacher Job Board (NOTJB), for instance. The NOTJB allows educators to apply to every open role across New Orleans schools. Our Talent Team joined educators at Teacher Fest and their outreach led to the referral of 30 potential new teachers for our public schools. The NOTJB team also invited about 40 teachers from outside of NOLA-PS who were considering roles in the district to join us for the festivities and meet the community we hope they join.
Resources like the NOTJB, just like Teacher Fest itself, are shaped by the feedback of our educators. Our post-Teacher Fest survey provided an opportunity to continue to check in. Given the Allstate Sugar Bowl New Orleans Teacher Community’s focus on retention, we asked educators what would help them stay in the classroom for the next 5-10 years. One of the most common responses was that greater pay, resources, or funding for themselves and their students would help teachers stay in this work.
At NSNO and the Allstate Sugar Bowl New Orleans Teacher Community, we know this is top of mind for educators. It’s why the Allstate Sugar Bowl New Orleans Teacher Community hosts both celebratory events like NOLA Teacher Fest as well as practical events like our webinars for educators on student loan forgiveness.
We also know that teachers too often have to dip into their own paychecks to pay for materials. That’s part of why those first 1,000 educators to arrive at Teacher Fest got a DonorsChoose gift card, which supports classroom projects. It’s also why Allstate Sugar Bowl and the College Football Playoff Foundation surprised four of the city’s top educators and their principals with $1000 DonorsChoose gift cards each in advance of the festival. The teachers and principals were thrilled–you can watch them receive the gifts here:
Those school visits were full of joy, as was NOLA Teacher Fest itself. At NSNO, we will continue to find new ways to celebrate and support our educators. We are proud to honor our teachers’ dedication to our city’s children, and show our dedication to them.