October 2007 Archives

Up – Yesterday we had a wonderful “informance” at the school to celebrate Jazz Awareness Month. Renowned jazz saxophonist, arranger, and producer Harold Batiste joined The Next Generation jazz band to entertain, inform, and teach 170 students about the music that was born in New Orleans. The 76-year old musical genius answered questions posed by second, third, and fourth grade students. The Jam session included Adella, Adella, the Storyteller, who read the book Jazz on a Saturday Night (2007), by Leo and Diane Dillon. It was a magical moment as the musicians punctuated the story with their musical interludes laced throughout ...


It's late-- after midnight. I'm still up because I was wondering how many parents went to school yesterday for Report Card Conferences. Teachers remained at school to distribute cards from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. I'll find out what percentage showed up when I visit the school later today. I hope we had a good turnout for the first quarter. I remember how hard it was to get some families engaged in their children's educations when I was a principal. A large portion of our population is eligible for free or reduced price meals; they are families who ...


Yesterday, I posed a question for my blog readers which required them to decide which of three simultaneous problems I addressed as the most urgent. As a reminder here are the problems: 1) the report cards for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten had to be picked up from the print shop. Report card conferences are Thursday. 2) The photographer forgot to take pictures for IDs and cumulative folders, only taking pictures of students who wanted to purchase his photo packages. 3) Two staff members got into an ugly argument which was witnessed by several parents. I have several comments that were sent ...


Yesterday was a rainy Monday. It was also a terrible day that included tornado warnings, street flooding, and heavy thunderstorms. I was very happy to be able to remain inside my house. It's one of the joys of retirement. But after the storms passed, we had a cold front today with much lower temperatures. So many things went wrong at school today that I remembered what it was like to be a principal when the seasons changed. It drove the kids nuts. But, today everyone was nuts. I won’t go into the details but I will say that with ...


J.K. Rowling was in New Orleans yesterday. At her much lauded book stop, she read to 1600 public school children and signed Harry Potter books. None of the children at our school were in attendance for this once in a lifetime event. We received some donated books for the library and late Wednesday evening, 20 tickets were delivered for our student representatives. Unfortunately, the details did not come with the tickets. The principal gave the tickets out to the children in the after school tutoring program and told them to ask their parents to take them to the event. ...


“I’m not doing this.” One of our teachers quit today and spoke those words before stripping the decorations from her bulletin boards, packing her personal items, and walking away. She left her class of 19 seven-year-olds and never looked back. When the principal shared this news with me, she did not appear concerned. Actually, she seemed relieved. The principal agreed that the teacher was correct; she was not doing it. A colleague saw her leaving the building and noted that the school has so many experienced teachers who really know what they are doing that the few faculty members ...


Don’t you hate it when you have to call an office in the State Department of Education? There are so many bureaucrats in the building that as you get transferred from one person to another so many times, you forget why you called. Usually, you can’t get an answer or the person you need to talk to is unavailable, out to lunch, in a meeting, or on vacation until the next week. This weekend, I had to contact the Louisiana State Department of Education on a serious matter. I was so sure I’d get the runaround that ...


Remember these words from the hit song in the early 1980s recorded by the Pointer Sisters? I'm so excited And I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control And I think I like it. I'm so excited And I just can't hide it. And I know, I know, I know, I know I know I want you. I want you. Well, that’s how I am feeling this evening. The “I want you” that I’m singing about is a new kitchen for our charter school. I love cooking and I love good food, especially New Orleans favorites ...


If you read this blog, you must be ready to travel to the strange places where my mind wanders.” Maybe it’s a little early. We haven’t gone trick or treating and the Thanksgiving turkey is in the distant future. However, we are thinking about Christmas. Hurricane Katrina was more than two years ago and the holidays have been a blur. Many of the traditions and celebrations to which we looked forward have been suspended, while our families were scattered all over the United States. What kind of memories will our children have because of the aftereffects of “the ...


Mr. M is standing tentatively at the door with a look on his face that seems to question whether he is in the right place or whether it is even permissible for him to enter. His clothes are dusty, sweaty and filthy from a long day of doing some type of manual labor. I beckon him into the Business Office and offer him a seat. He pauses briefly before he calmly sits on the newly purchased upholstered chair. Mr. M is a young, very dark-complexioned African American man with lots of gold teeth, an impatient attitude and a slight scowl. ...


Last Wednesday was a great day, partly because I didn’t have to go to school. That sounds like a statement you’d expect to hear from a truant child more that from the President of a charter school board. But, truth be told, I have been going to the school almost every day for the past three months. Sometimes I stay for 4-5 hours. And, last Friday at 5:00 p.m. when I left, everyone else was already enjoying their weekend. My first telephone call, using our newly installed system was to an angry parent (who put me ...


This story has a happy ending, but it didn’t look like that would be the case for awhile. Our teachers started working on July 30, 2007 in a 10-day professional development activity centered upon preparing for the opening of school. They were paid up to $1,000--$100 per day to decorate their rooms, cart textbooks and manipulatives up the stairs (we don’t have an elevator in our 3-story building), and attend academic meetings. In the past, teachers were expected to come to school days in advance to prepare classrooms and they were never paid for their time. ...


$368 per night. That’s what it costs to pay for two 8-hour shifts of a security guard’s vigilance in our empty school each night. If anyone reads the daily newspaper in New Orleans, one might think that the high level of crime we endure in the Crescent City requires a special need for security in our well-stocked schools. Actually, we do have more computers, calculators, projectors, etc. than we had before Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters washed everything away. But, no one has tried to break into the school to steal anything. In fact, lots of the houses in ...


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