A recap of some of our favorite moments from this school year

At NSNO, we feel it is an immense privilege to get to know, support, and share the stories of the students, educators, and families in our district. Now that the school year has ended, we want to celebrate them with highlights of some of the pieces we’ve shared featured and shared during the 2022-2023 school year: 

Growing Tomorrow’s Teachers

New Orleans’ teachers of tomorrow are already in our classrooms today. Learn about the students and educators of the city’s many “Grow Your Own” programs that NSNO is proud to support and help fund:  

Scarlet Cornelius (center) is the educator behind the KIPP New Orleans Alumni Teaching Force, which prepares KIPP New Orleans students for a career in education, and guarantees them a role in a KIPP New Orleans classroom when they graduate from college. Students take an education class at their high school and student-teach at KIPP elementary and middle schools. Learn more here.

Kierra Daniels (left) and Kenyel Johnson (right) are graduates of Booker T. Washington High School and members of the KIPP New Orleans Alumni Teaching Force. They told us about student teaching and how their future roles in KIPP New Orleans schools motivated them in college. As Daniels put it, “People are searching high and low for jobs that don’t have anything to do with their degree, but I have a job, in something I want to do, to be a teacher–going back to New Orleans and becoming a teacher.” Read on here.

Jakeim Matthews (left) and Sahaan Bickham (right) are members of the KIPP New Orleans Alumni Teaching Force from John F. Kennedy High School. Matthews told us about the power of being a future New Orleans teacher from New Orleans. “I think we can relate more [to students], coming from where they came from and stuff like that,” says Matthews. “They might be more open to listen, because they can relate to us more…all of us coming back to teach is helping–it’s just good for the students.” Read on here.

Destinee Jolly (left) and Jasmine Mulder (right) were in the pre-education pathway at Warren Easton Charter High School. They take a “Foundations of Education” course at Easton and student-teach at Morris Jeff Community School. As Jolly puts it, “It teaches us patience, understanding, and to put a good mindset behind everything. It pushes you to know you’re about to go to the real world and get into your real career, and it gives you a look into our future and adulthood. It’s like our own job that real adults have–but we’re seniors in high school and we’re doing it.” You can read more about their experiences here.

McDonogh 35 Senior High School has also just launched its own pre-education program. Students will take classes at 35 and student-teach and tutor at Capdau STEAM School. We spoke with three Mc35 alums who are starting the program. Dr. Juaquana Lewis (above, in her high school yearbook, and today) is one of them. She looked up to her teachers at 35. “I saw them–how they carried themselves, how they spoke, how they treated people, how they impacted the community. And that made me say, ‘I want to be a teacher,’” she says. Now, she wants to inspire today’s students. Read more here.

Reach University helps prepare current school staff and paraprofessionals to earn their bachelor’s degrees and prepare to be full-time classroom educators. We spoke with Reach’s leadership to learn more. “We are wringing our hands in this country everywhere about where we are going to find the next generation of teachers–-and they are already there,” says Joe E. Ross, President of Reach University. “Most of them are paraprofessionals, sometimes they are classroom aides, many are coaches and other employees,” he explains. Learn more about Reach’s model and presence in New Orleans here

Carrie Payton-Turner (left) and Kimberly Wicks (right) are special educators in New Orleans Public Schools and students at Reach University. They believe deeply in the program. Wicks told us, “You know, if you want to help the teacher crisis, invest in your paras and your support staff. The best way you can support them is to tell them about Reach.” Read more here

Supporting Innovative and Creative Students

NSNO was a sponsor of the Aspen Challenge, which called on New Orleans’ public high school students to devise solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time. We spoke with two of the winning teams:

The Frederick Douglass High School team, Operation Hope 4 NOLA, aimed to counter a narrative of local youth violence by hosting events that showcased community and positivity. The team hasn’t lost momentum after their win. As rising senior Emily Osorio put it, “I hope we aren’t only at Douglass. I hope that we go to the East Coast or West Coast and start going internationally. For me, that’s the mission, and I guess you could say the dream–that we started here at this school in a little room up on the second floor, but we can go to bigger places–places where we haven’t even gone to yet.” 

Krewe Du Cypress, the team at Benjamin Franklin High School, focused on empowering their peers to take action around the climate crisis. They organized advocacy, developed provocative public art, and even developed lesson plans for a statewide curriculum. They were energized not just by their own projects, but by the work of their fellow Aspen Challenge competitors. As graduating senior Christina You put it, “if this is the future of New Orleans, I feel like we’re in good hands.” 

Right before Mardi Gras, we were thrilled to get to know young musicians from across our district at The Roots of Music. We also spoke with some devoted parents about the role Roots of Music has in their childrens’ lives. As one of them, Jonell Deshotel, said of her daughter, “She knows that she has to work hard. She knows that she has to bring good grades—and not in a way of ‘oh, that’s going to make or break you in the band,’ but because her instructors here mean so much to her, and she wants to make them proud.” Read more here

Celebrating Great Teachers Through Our Allstate Sugar Bowl New Orleans Teacher Community and Instructional Quality Initiative

We were pleased to host events this year at which our educators could celebrate, learn, and be together. 

Last fall, at the inaugural New Orleans Excellence in Teaching Awards Gala, sponsored by Entergy, we celebrated the teachers of the year from each of New Orleans’ public schools at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel downtown. They each brought a guest and their principal, and thanks to our generous sponsors at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and College Football Playoff Foundation, we were able to give them each $1000 to use toward a classroom grant or project. Save the date for the 2023 NOETA Gala on October 21! 

We had so much fun at the second-annual NOLA Teacher Fest in May, where over 1,750 educators joined us for music, food, celebration and prizes in Champions Square. We owe immense thanks to our sponsors, Allstate Sugar Bowl, the College Football Playoff Foundation, Entergy, Pro Bono Publico, and the Booth-Bricker Fund for helping us show our teachers a great time.

We were thrilled to host the first-ever STEM Summit in collaboration with GNO Rocs. Over two days, over 24 vendors joined us to host hands-on learning and engagement with the many STEM educators that joined us from across the city. 

New Orleans Students in Local News 

We’re always keeping an eye on the news, and we’ve been proud to see these positive stories young people thriving in our community. In case you missed it, read about twin sisters from Frederick A. Douglass High School, Kayla and Kyla Frey, who are headed to Yale and LSU with nearly $5 million in scholarships, and Dennis Barnes, a recent international High School of New Orleans graduate who earned $9 million in scholarships. We were so impressed as well by the two St. Mary’s Academy students who came up with a groundbreaking mathematical proof. Our city’s children hold so much potential, and we are grateful to the educators who are helping them meet it fully. At NSNO, we will continue to meet the moment and show up for them however we can. 

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