New Schools for New Orleans is proud to sponsor the Gambit’s Frontline People Awards, featured in this week’s issue.

Together with the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, we highlighted three “education heroes”. We’ll be sharing their stories, and others, with you over the coming weeks.

Check out our School Heroes video of Dr. Jennifer Baudy on Facebook!

Dr. Jennifer Baudy

Director of Mental Health, Harriet Tubman Charter School

Dr. Jennifer Baudy holds a Doctorate in Social Work from Tulane University. She is the Director of Mental Health at Harriet Tubman Charter School’s 3rd-8th grade campus.

“And what that means,” she says, “is that I’m a jack of all trades. I have the privilege of being able to make sure our social-emotional supports are in place for our students and that the wonderful teachers and mental health providers…have what they need to provide services.”

But “no day is a typical day,” she explains. In addition to managing mental health and social work services, she connects with families, works with the student leadership council, is a liaison for students who are unhoused, and more.

“She has a pulse and a touchpoint with almost every team, every family,” says Zondra Howard, Principal of Harriet Tubman’s 3rd-8th grade campus. “She doesn’t want [students] to just have academic success, she also wants to encourage their development as well-rounded, healthy, and happy individuals.”

Dr. Baudy keeps an eye on the mental health of staff members, too.

“At the start of this year, everyone was coming back emotionally drained…we’d gone through the pandemic, we’d experienced the trauma of George Floyd, we experienced the revolution that happened as a result, with the Black Lives Matter movement. We were coming back with all of these emotions and now we’re supposed to open a school…and in order to be successful in our work for kids, we needed to make sure we were mentally prepared.”

Dr. Baudy helped them do it. She created a “Blue Table,” modeled after Jada Pinkett Smith’s roundtable talk show, “The Red Table” (but blue to match the school’s color). Dr. Baudy invited staff to come talk with her and connect. It was a huge success.

“They talked about all of the things that were impacting the work…And I think that was a really powerful thing to do because as educators, as nurturers, we’re always thinking about how we can serve others–but that was a moment to step in and say ‘what do I need to make myself whole?’”

Dr. Baudy makes sure students can feel whole, as well. Khalia C. is in 8th grade at Harriet Tubman Charter School, and she works with Dr. Baudy as a member of the student leadership council.

“During this pandemic, things have been really, really tough for us…it’s really a struggle…and Dr. Baudy has really pushed us to be motivated, to be clear, to be confident in what we want to do.”

Baudy has made clear to Khalia and her classmates that she is a resource, and Khalia takes her up on it.

“I feel like I can always just talk to her about anything. When I have a problem that I want to get solved, or something that my peers tell me is a problem for them, I go to her.”

When we asked Khalia if there was anything else we should know about Dr. Baudy, she laughed. Her face lit up and she brought her hands to her heart.

“You will love her,” she said.

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