- NOLA Teacher Fest Highlights
- Over 1,100 educators attended – roughly ⅓ of the teaching force in our city
- They represented 95% of New Orleans’ public schools
- Educators received $75,000 in prizes and gift certificates
- Nearly 90% of teachers surveyed afterwards said they connected with at least one teacher from outside their school or network
- Created by NSNO and sponsored by the New Orleans Teacher Community, Allstate Sugar Bowl, College Football Playoff Foundation, and Booth Bricker
There’s a new festival in town. Last week, NSNO’s NOLA Teacher Fest joined the ranks of New Orleans’ beloved spring and summertime events. Over 1,100 teachers showed up, representing 95% percent of our public schools.
NSNO is committed to supporting New Orleans’ teachers, and we know that our schools are stronger when our teachers build long-lasting careers in their roles. We want to help them do that, and we know it’s important for them to feel appreciated, celebrated, and honored. NOLA Teacher Fest is one part of that work. Dr. Jahquille Ross, NSNO’s Director of Teacher Support, led planning for the event after a series of listening sessions with schools citywide, where he talked with teachers about the types of support would be helpful to them. Many of them talked about the sustaining power of community, friendship, and self-care. We were happy to provide an opportunity for that.
We held NOLA Teacher Fest on Thursday, May 5th, at Champions Square from 4pm-7pm. We treated teachers to free food, drinks, a DJ, a second line band, and the chance to relax and connect with their colleagues from across the city. Educators danced, played lawn games, and took the chance to relax and enjoy themselves. Turnout was amazing–those 1000+ teachers represented a third of our city’s teaching force.
As they arrived, educators received fanny packs stuffed with gift cards from Donors Choose, which were generously donated by our partners at the College Football Playoff Foundation. Teachers also won raffle prizes, including four $500 Donors Choose gift cards, a $100 Nike gift card, a “bread basket” from Panera, and gift cards to online teaching stores. Overall, we handed out $75,000 in prizes.
At the event, we spoke with some teachers about why they joined the profession and what they love about it.
Andrea Spreter teaches an 11th grade career exploration class called Quest for Success. “I really love connecting with kids. For me it’s really about the relationship,” she says. “The content can stay the same year after year, but it’s really about the kids and seeing how they connect with the content.”
In her role, Spreter helps students plan for their careers. She’s proud that some former students have become teachers. She says that “seeing the kids come back and work in education or in any other field in New Orleans is the most rewarding thing.”
Vida Thompson teaches 6th grade math at Einstein Sherwood Forest. She likes watching the transformation among her students over the course of the year. She says most students begin the year telling her they hate math.
“But I promise them ‘you will learn math, and you will grow to love math,’” she says. And Thompson says that just last week, a student came up to her and said, “I really learned math this year–and I love it.”
Christopher Arce, the Band director at Alice Harte Charter School, says teaching is “everything I thought it would be and more.”
He says that as he teaches, he’s thinking about the future. “I teach because I want to inspire the next generation of New Orleans’ musicians–not only to become great musicians, but to become model citizens.”
As Arce, Thompson, and Spreter inspire the next generation of musicians, mathematicians, educators, and leaders, we are proud to support them. NOLA Teacher Fest is just one way NSNO will be standing by our teachers. NOLA Teacher Fest was, in part, a launch event for the New Orleans Teacher Community, through which NSNO will provide educators with continuing resources and opportunities. Next month, for instance, the New Orleans Teacher Community will be awarding $2000 grants to teachers for professional development or classroom experiences.
We were joined by friends and colleagues from across the education community. Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr., representatives from the NOLA-PS leadership team, City Councilman Oliver Thomas, and Orleans Parish School Board members Ethan Ashley, Katie Baudouin, Nolan Marshall, and Olin Parker came and connected with teachers.
Our teachers let us know they had a great time. In a survey after the event, around 90% of educators said they got to connect with at least one educator outside of their school or network. On a 1-5 scale of “no fun” to “lots of fun,” more than 90% of educators rated the event 4 or 5. On another 1-5 scale of “did not feel appreciated” to “felt strongly appreciated and valued,” 90% of educators again gave the event a 4 or 5 rating.
Our sponsors for the event–the New Orleans Teacher Community, Allstate Sugar Bowl, College Football Playoff Foundation, and Booth Bricker–made all of this possible. We are so grateful to them for helping us celebrate our city’s teachers. We look forward to continuing the celebration for years to come.