Connecting with Students from New Orleans Public Schools

As the school year began, we connected with some of the foremost experts on our city’s schools – our students. We spoke with young people from across our city and heard about their hopes, dreams, passions, and what they’re excited about this year. We also spoke with their parents about their dreams for their children and why they love their child’s school.

We’re delighted to share some reflections from students and families at the NET: Central City, an Educators for Quality Alternatives (EQA) school, and Noble Minds Institute for Whole Child learning here. They leave us hopeful for our city’s future.

Cory Ramsey, 4th Grader at Noble Minds Institute for Whole Child Learning  

Cory Ramsey is a 4th grader at Noble Minds Institute for Whole Child Learning, a K-8 school with a mission to “create an environment where students receive high quality instruction and effective personal growth strategies that will prepare them to successfully navigate the next stage of their educational journey.” You can learn more about Noble Minds Institute for Whole Child Learning here.

I’m in fourth grade and I’ve been at this school since I was in kindergarten. It’s a great place to learn and all the teachers are nice to me. And you can make new friends. My favorite subjects are Math and Science because I get to hang out with Ms. Guilliot [Noble Minds’ Math and Science teacher]. – Cory  

We also spoke to Cory’s mother, Ms. Ramsey. She shared her thoughts on Noble Minds and Cory’s growth there:

My favorite thing about Noble Minds is that they encourage Cory to be his authentic self. I’m most proud of Cory’s resilience and how he’s excited about his education in spite of challenges. My dream is that he uses the foundation that Noble Minds has provided for him to succeed and excel in high school and his post-secondary education.”  – Ms. Ramsey

Christaney Williams and Dylan Oliver, Jr., Students at the NET: Central City

Christaney Williams and Dylan Oliver, Jr. are students at the NET: Central City. Christaney also takes classes at the New Orleans Career Center (NOCC). The NET is an alternative school with an innovative model, non-traditional schedule, and free childcare options for students who are parents. Students engage in paid internships, credit recovery, and accelerated learning, and track their credits toward graduation instead of identifying with traditional grade levels; Christaney and Dylan are both on track to graduate in 2024. (You can learn more about enrolling in the NET here.) We asked Christaney and Dylan Jr. questions about their school, their hopes and dreams, and their advice for younger students. We also spoke to Christaney’s mother and Dylan’s father. Their reflections are below:

Christaney Williams ‘24

Right now I’m in the New Orleans Career Center (NOCC) program. This school year, I’m working to earn my Patient Care Technician license. I plan to be certified in December. I’m going to start working at Ochsner. Nursing is something I wanted to do…and now I’m able to do it. I’m getting closer and closer to my graduation date.

I go to NOCC for the beginning half of the day, from 8 o’clock to 11:30, and then I come to the NET and finish the rest of my classes. I’m doing so many things at once, and I’m able to manage doing it.

I really love The NET, because when I first came on as a teen mom, I came with no credits. I came not knowing what I wanted to be in life. So coming to today, it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. It was a lot of door openings, a lot of opportunities, a lot of internships you could get – I ended up getting a job through the NET. I was working as an intern at the YEP Thrift Works next door, so I could go right after school.  – Christaney

Christaney’s mother, Kanisha Williams, shared her reflections, too:

I am very proud of Christaney for not giving up when all odds were against her. To strive hard to finish school, work, dance, being a mom all the while trying to get her nursing license ain’t easy. No matter what obstacle is thrown at her she pushes through. – Kanisha Williams

Dylan Oliver, Jr., ‘24

I might be graduating in eleventh grade, so that’s really what I’m excited about. I need like eight more credits left, so I can do that this year, so that’s what I’m focused on. I’ll most likely be seventeen when I graduate. The teachers in this school, they really show that they care. They help you. They care about your career, what you want to do after school, what you can do outside of school.  

I’m also an amateur boxer right now at Getcha Right Boxing gym on Constance Street. The mindset boxing developed for me as a student is that I became more patient, more mature. I started growing as a man, and also learned how to stay calm in most situations.

If I could give advice to a younger student, I’d say, “Just chase your dreams. Anything is really possible. They’ve got all the equipment and technology. If you want to do something, go for it. You know, don’t let anybody tell you you can’t.” – Dylan Oliver, Jr.

Dylan Jr.’s father, Dylan Oliver Sr., told us about why he’s so proud of his son:

I am so proud of my son for many reasons, but most of all, I commend him regularly for his willingness to give up comfortability constantly while gaining endless amounts of hard work and discomfort, all in hopes of pursuing his dream! I sure do love this young man with everything in me! – Dylan Oliver, Sr.


We are so grateful that these students and their families connected with us. We’re also so grateful for their schools and teachers, as well as for the out-of-school supports, like internship partners and boxing gyms, that enrich them as well. Together, they engage our students’ interests, nurture their talents, and guide them on the paths to reach their dreams. We know that students need this type of holistic support in order to truly thrive in the classroom and beyond.  

As the year goes on, we’ll continue to hear from our city’s young people about their hopes, dreams, and experiences in our schools. Their voices and perspectives are essential in any conversation we have about schools in our community. We’re honored to be able to share them here.

Are you a parent with a great story to tell about your child’s school? Are you a teacher or school leader who wants to highlight the accomplishments of one of your students? We would love to feature them, email us here!

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