January 2008 Archives

This morning, I was thinking about the progress we’ve made in the past month. The New Year started off well for us at McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School. We’ve been able to hire a bright, young man for our middle school math position. The students’ reception was positive at their first meeting. We’ve also hired a Special Education para to work with regular education teachers in classrooms that have students with special needs. We almost hired a second person as a para, but she got a better offer from RSD as a Math teacher, her area of ...


In honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, many of our local high school and college students decided to do service projects today. Our school benefited from the services of 12 young men from a nearby boys’ high school. The students arrived at our school promptly at 9:30 a.m. traveling by public service or parent chauffeurs. They were wearing their uniform pants and some type of school tee shirt or sweatshirt. Our task was to unpack and shelve over eighty boxes of library books. We had less than three hours to complete the work. One of ...


One of the best things about working is schools is that you have a chance to start a new year twice, once when school opens and a second time when the calendar year changes. We’ve started the new year with a bang. We hired a full-time speech therapist that started work this week. She has already visited every class and reviewed the records of our identified students who need speech services. We’ve even developed a plan to give them compensatory services for the therapy that they missed. She was so well received by the classroom teachers, receiving smiles, ...


Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. --Lee Holz This morning, I attended a 2-hour meeting at a neighborhood high school. It was a city-wide School Facilities Master Plan for New Orleans meeting to determine the fate of every public school, opened or shuttered, in New Orleans. The meeting had been organized by the leaders of the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District. Information from the website at www.sfmpop.org states, “The School Facilities Master Plan is a comprehensive plan for the Orleans Parish ...


The laptop computers we purchased for the teachers were scheduled for delivery today. They have a fellow teacher to thank for planting the idea with the Board. Like so many of our faculty members, she was teaching in another state last year. When she returned to the city, she shared her experiences and gave us some benchmarks from the school district that she left behind. One of her first questions was, “Are we going to get laptops?” I responded, “Of course,” although we had not budgeted for that specific item, just technology in general. Hopefully, we can get the Help ...


Our State Superintendent, Paul Pastorek (Paul #1), convened a meeting of charter school leaders today. Our topics included discussions around “bureaucratic creep,” a term for increasing supervision and interference by the local education agencies in the autonomy provided to charter schools. Mr. Pastorek listened attentively to each person explain his or her most pressing issues during the hour he was present. He did very little talking. My own questions were centered on reimbursements for capital projects that should be covered in our charter school agreements with FEMA and the insurance companies and special education dilemmas. These two topics were also ...


During my 32-year career as an educator, I was approached on several occasions by people who wanted to know if I had considered applying for the Superintendency in the New Orleans Public Schools. This was more prevalent after I received my Ph.D. in 1998. From my perspective, there were several reasons why I would never be a superintendent. None of them had anything to do with the requisite skills needed to do the job well. It was always my feeling that the most important thing a superintendent had to do was to build a strong leadership team of moral, ...


In 1984, I was still a probationary principal at Charles E. Gayarre Elementary School. Although the name of the school was changed to Oretha Castle Haley in 1995, it was in the same Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans’s eighth ward where it had stood since 1896 when it first opened. I was the first African American principal of that school and I wanted to do something to create a legacy. As the holiday season loomed, I began trying to figure out ways to create a special occasion for the children. Unfortunately, I started thinking about it too late. Everything ...


A newspaper reporter called me yesterday to ask if I wanted to make a comment on a story she was writing about Special Education and the charter schools. I’m not sure what her angle was but she mentioned having talked to the parent of one of our school’s students. The parent complained that her daughter was not getting the services she needed from the school. I did not call the reporter back. Simply put, I’m tired of talking to reporters about what our school does not have. I could not think of any way that my conversation ...


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