The Students at the Center community is bidding a few farewells this summer, including one to this blog. Today’s entry is our last, and in it we want to share and explain two of our other farewells: one that’s by choice and one that we feel results from us not having the choice we’d like. We are happy to report that two of our staff members, both of whom have writings in this blog series, are temporarily leaving us to pursue graduate degrees. Gabrielle Turner has just begun work on a Master’s degree in teaching. She ...


A key feature of SAC work is what students learn as they are in our classes and as they are training to work as staff members. Today’s entries by Naila Campbell, McMain 2008 graduate and emerging staff member, and Alexandra Lear, 2007 McMain graduate and current SAC staff member, illustrate this process. Both essays were written in the three-week workshop for New Orleans Public School teachers, SAC staff, and rising SAC interns that we just completed. This Summer I Learned To Read Naila Campbell I was always a good reader. Once my teachers taught me the art of sounding ...


Today’s blog features two writings from the three-week workshop in writing, critical pedagogy, and digital media SAC just completed for the New Orleans public school system. A regular feature of SAC work is to work in settings where teachers and students are learning from each other. The pair of writings we share today illustrates that practice. The first selection by Janay Barconey was written in a 20-minute writing session following one of our readings and discussions. Janay, who graduated from McMain this May, has been with SAC since her Hurricane Katrina-interrupted 10th grade year. She spent her senior year ...


During the last week of May and the first three weeks of June, Students at the Center staff, graduates, and students have been leading two separate workshops for teachers in the New Orleans Public Schools. Today’s essay comes from Anthony Pham, a 2008 graduate of McMain Secondary School and a participant in the workshop on the identity and culture of Vietnamese students. Nguyen Hoang, author of the previous essay in this blog, also is participating in this workshop. Nguyen’s translation into Vietnamese of Anthony’s essay follows Anthony’s English version. These writings are part of a longer ...


After Katrina, there has been a lot of talk of citizen participation and its increase in New Orleans. At Douglass we have been experiencing this in a range of ways: absence of many pre-Katrina school and community leaders because of difficulty of returning, neighborhood residents building renewed commitment to and work in public education, and hindrances to full community involvement by policy restrictions, conflicting visions for the school, and lack of full, careful communication and consensus among all stakeholders. In the midst of our work in one neighborhood school, it is refreshing and encouraging to have students challenge us to ...


Today we feature one student’s reflections about the public school facilities issue in New Orleans. Alexandra Lear, a 2007 graduate of McMain Secondary School and staff member with Students at the Center, shares these thoughts as the city is going through a massive and controversial planning process for school facilities. As her essay illustrates, questions about equity in public school facilities are still a major issue in New Orleans. Schools in New Orleans Alexandra Lear On my Easter break I visited my older cousins who moved to Maryland after the hurricane. As soon as the plane landed the first ...


On Tuesday, May 6, the Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent, Paul Vallas, was 30 minutes late for a community meeting to discuss the school system’s plans for Douglass High School. Over 100 people attended, including well over half of the school’s faculty, who were eager to have an opportunity to hear directly from the superintendent. The audience, which also included students, parents, neighborhood residents, and community and educational organization representatives, began the meeting promptly at the appointed time, gleaning bits of information from a small group that had breakfast with Mr. Vallas the previous week. At that breakfast ...


Today’s entry is from Kirsten Theodore, who will graduate in June 2008 from Frederick Douglass High School, which she has described in a previous essay in this blog series as her dream school. This Tuesday (May 6, 2008) she along with a number of friends of Douglass High School, will meet with Paul Vallas, the Recovery School District superintendent who “moved” (his family remains in Chicago where he continues to float plans for another run for governor of Illinois) to New Orleans less than a year ago. He has brought with him a number of consultants and programs and ...


Prior to Katrina, community involvement at Douglass High School was building and took a variety of forms. One of the most important was the weekly adult math literacy class hosted by the Douglass Community Coalition in collaboration with the New Orleans Algebra Project. Almost every Wednesday night during the 2003-04 school year, Bob Moses would make the six-hour round trip drive from Jackson, Mississippi, where he was teaching at Lanier High School, to co-direct this workshop at Douglass. Students, parents, teachers, and community members worked together to build an understanding of the importance of Algebra and of some of the ...


This week has been busy with responses to the April 7 announcement of the impending closing of Douglass High School. Earlier this week, on Monday, April 14, Recovery School District (RSD) Superintendent Paul Vallas gave a report to state superintendent Paul Pastorek and the public at large about the RSD’s progress. A number of Douglass supporters attended the meeting to give comment, ask questions, and seek answers about the plans for Douglass. Many of them have approached us upset that Mr. Vallas, in response to their concerns, claimed that the community had not cared about Douglass for the last ...


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  • Catherine: Today's entry is frightening. The contrast you present here is read more
  • Catherine: Dear Kirsten, This essay made me laugh. It's not often read more
  • catherine: Vinnessia, My students at Boston College read your essay and read more
  • Pat Langa: Uma analíse muito interessante, mesmo para quem olha a história read more
  • Lou Bernieri: Ashley Jones's essay and Jim Randels introduction detail the reprehensible read more

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