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To our community:

We are entering the time of year when students and teachers would normally be launching into special projects, going on field trips, and anticipating summer vacation spent outside with friends. Seniors would be going to prom and preparing to walk across the stage at graduation.

This year is different. Across the city, schools are doing their best to help students celebrate their year and look hopefully toward their futures. In particular, they are working to honor seniors. You can find examples of this in our Bright Spots section below.

And, as always, you can find continued resources for our community—like where to find free meals from local restaurants—as well as ways to get involved—like donating to the New Orleans Technology Access Fund.

Bright Spots

Every week, we find great hope and encouragement from the actions of our school communities. This week, we shine a special spotlight on schools finding creative ways to celebrate seniors

  • The Sophie B. Wright Charter High School staff celebrated their seniors by placing personalized yard signs in front of their students’ homes. In collaboration with the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, we highlighted Principal Sharon Clark and her team as #EducationHeroes in a short video.

  • New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School (Sci High) gave seniors congratulatory yard signs as well.

  • Einstein Charter High School at Sarah T. Reed has been posting videos on social media of seniors sharing their plans for life after high school. This week’s video features Jonquelle Chandler, who will study nursing in college.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Next week—May 4-8—is Teacher Appreciation Week, when we honor the educators who fuel the bright spots we share in our newsletters each week and who guide our students’ learning all year long. NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) is inviting community members to join in the following activities to celebrate our amazing New Orleans educators.

NOLA Morning Bell: Although school bells aren’t ringing during the current school-building closures, teachers are still hard at work supporting students academically and in many other ways, perhaps more than ever. At 9:00 AM on Tuesday, May 5, join NOLA-PS in saluting our teachers by ringing a bell, banging pots and pans, clapping your hands, or making any other type of noise you wish. Record your celebration, then share it on social media using #NOLAmorningbell and tag @nolaps.

Share which teacher inspires you: NOLA-PS wants to hear from the community about teachers that inspire us. NOLA-PS will share submissions during Teacher Appreciation Week. Send the following information to community@nolapublicschools.com: teacher’s name, school, and why you appreciate them.


Support for school leaders and teachers

Educational inequity and the pandemic: Dr. Jawan Brown-Alexander, NSNO’s Chief of Schools and former school leader, writes about how we can work to minimize the exacerbation of educational inequity during this time in a guest column for Education Post. For example, she discusses the importance of continuing to use Tier 1 curriculum.

Supporting African American students: Adeyemi Stembridge, Ph.D., author of Culturally Responsive Education in the Classroom: An Equity Framework for Pedagogy, shared specific suggestions for how to support African American students during school-building closures in an Education Week article.

New and updated LDOE guidance for special education: The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has released guidance for special education teachers on continuous learning opportunities for students with significant cognitive disabilities during school-building closures. In addition, LDOE’s Direct Services guidance document for students with disabilities has been updated to include information on direct services for early childhood.

Resource library for remote special education services: Education organizations from across the country—including SELF in New Orleans—have come together to form the Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA). EALA aims to support the continuity of special education services during school-building closures by sharing best practices. Their resource library includes case studies, ed tech tools for special education needs, and other resources and guidance.

Staff culture during closures: Democracy Prep shares guiding questions and concrete suggestions for “Building Adult Culture in a Remote World.”

Resources for leaders: New Leaders has created a collection of resources for school and network leaders that are aligned to three priority areas they have identified: preserving community, protecting learning, and promoting connectedness. Bellwether Education Partners has created a Strategic Planning Toolkit to help leaders make decisions and actionable plans during these difficult, complicated times.

Educator resources shared in our previous newsletters can be found here.

Supporting students’ and residents’ needs

Food assistance for students:NOLA-PS and NORD continue to offer free breakfast and lunch for children at community feeding sites citywide on Mondays and Wednesdays; multiple days’ worth of “grab and go” meals are provided on those days. Lyft continues to offer free ride codes for families needing transportation to sites.

Food assistance for residents: On May 1, hospitality workers and musicians can receive free meals from The Commissary, the newest addition to the Dickie Brennan & Co. restaurant group. From April 30 to May 3, a group of restaurants in collaboration with Hogs for a Cause and Blue Oak BBQ are hosting “Faux Fest” as a tribute to Jazz Fest; free “Jazz Fest inspired” lunches will be served to anyone in need until food runs out. Finally, please note that Second Harvest Food Bank will no longer be distributing food at Zephyr Field. For information about food distribution locations that remain open, dial 211.

Child care assistance:The Louisiana Department of Education has extended the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) for essential workers for an additional 30 days. The extension applies to families currently receiving services as well as families seeking services. The link includes a list of industries deemed “essential” and the CCAP application.

Free housing-related and other legal guidance: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) has published a series of blog posts providing information about foreclosure prevention, leases, custody issues, and more during the pandemic. Some blog posts are also available in Spanish. Low-income residents can also seek SLLS’ guidance at no cost through their toll-free hotline.

Stress-reduction techniques for children in English and Spanish:The Denver-based nonprofit ASSET Education has created an At-Home Toolkit with five concrete stress-reducing tools that families can practice with children. ASSET also has a video series for students in which their peers demonstrate stress-reducing tools.

Virtual storytime in English and Spanish: The New Orleans Public Library is sharing virtual storytime videos in English here. The Pebbles Center, a partnership between New Orleans Public Library and Tulane University that brings Latin American literature and culture to New Orleans children, is conducting virtual storytimes in Spanish; videos are released weekly here.

Resources for student and family needs that were shared in our previous newsletters can be found here.

How You Can Help

Help New Orleans students access online learning:Thousands of New Orleans public school students do not have access to the internet and/or computers at home, making it harder for schools to provide high-quality instruction and prevent learning loss during this time. NSNO is working to offset the cost of these critical technology needs—help us close the digital divide by donating to the New Orleans Technology Access Fund.

Contribute to Second Harvest while donations are being matched: Today, April 30, is the last day that Entergy is matching donations to Second Harvest Food Bank—dollar for dollar up to $75,000. With this match, every dollar you donate helps provide eight meals. Second Harvest is producing 50,000 meals per week for community members in need.

Help New Orleans’ culture bearers and restaurants simultaneously: Feed the Front Line NOLA, created by the Krewe of Red Beans on March 16, uses donated funds to order meals from local restaurants—helping to keep them in business—and then delivers these meals to healthcare workers for free during their long, grueling shifts. Now, the Krewe has created Feed the Second Line NOLA: donated funds will similarly be used to support restaurants and their employees, but the free meals will be delivered to New Orleans’ “culture bearers” in need—musicians, artists, Mardi Gras Indians, and more. Groceries will also be delivered to those in need through partnerships with Crescent City Farmers Market and Rouses Markets.

Support Jazz Fest artists: Like many other artists in our community, the vendors who were scheduled to participate in the 2020 Jazz Fest’s arts and crafts marketplaces have lost significant income due to the pandemic. In order to allow these artists and craftspeople to recoup some of this income, the Jazz Fest staff have partnered with WWOZ to create an online directory of their websites and email addresses.

The following organizations and initiatives mentioned in our previous newsletters continue to seek much-needed donations and volunteers.

We will continue to reach out weekly, with newsletters or other updates. Feel free to be in touch with any questions, concerns, or ideas. If you know of other resources you think we should add to our lists, please pass them along.


Patrick Dobard
New Schools for New Orleans

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