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 ...


I was really looking forward to a break for the next two weeks while school was closed for the winter holiday. But, there’s so much that needs to be completed, we really can’t afford to stop. It’s more like catch up time than vacation time. Early this morning I got several emails from our business manager about unfinished business which demanded immediate attention. Teacher retirement plan enrollments, final pay checks, and employee exit procedures were on the agenda. We have to create every policy, procedure, and form for our charter school. Someone told me that we are ...


After a very rough week that started out with a media frenzy around our teacher sick out, we are getting dressed for the first faculty Holiday Party. It’s being held at a lovely reception hall not too far from the school. It’s a catered affair in a beautifully decorated place. In New Orleans, everything revolves around food and music. We’ll have both. The only drawback may be the cash bar. Our new principal is escorting his wife and introducing her to the staff tonight. They will also meet the spouses of some of our Board members. It’s...


I’m not sure where to start with this story of turmoil, hurt feelings and differing views. I apologize if I am incoherent, but it is 5:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep. The story in the morning paper reports that some of the teachers and the former principal of our charter school felt that I was micromanaging the school. From my perspective, I was not as much trying to carry the ball as I was trying to pick up the fumble. Is it possible that I was creating interference instead of helping the team? Obviously, some ...


“You can't get to no better days unless you make it through the night.” -Better Days sung by Dianne Reeves We want to provide a great education for children living and surviving in the neighborhood we call Treme. We’ve hired experienced, highly qualified, veteran teachers. We promised and delivered to them the highest salaries in town. We involved them in decision-making, purchasing, and every important plan, giving them respect for the school leaders they are. How hard can it be with this type of staff? It’s very difficult when teachers are distracted by politics. It’s a challenge ...


I love to tell short stories and share interesting vignettes several times each week through this blog. How hard can it be? I didn’t get to write anything at all from Monday to Friday, although it was on my mind every day. I actually miss writing more when there’s no time to think much less write. Normally, I don’t blog on the weekend, but I feel guilty thinking about those of you who correspond with me and offer positive feedback to the obstacles of starting over. It’s been a pretty rough week, but there were some ...


I can’t leave home today because our construction crew is installing doors in every room on the first floor of my house. When the levees broke following Hurricane Katrina, my house was flooded and stewed by 4 ½ feet of muddy, salt water for two weeks. All of the doors were off the hinges or warped and bloated when we were finally allowed to return, a month after the storm’s passing. It’s costing us $6,000 to replace them—with an upgrade. I included some fancy etched glass doors for my new home office and the front foyer. ...


The headline in today’s Times-Picayune newspaper reads “Eight new charters endorsed for N.O.” None of those schools will be operated by the Treme Charter School Association. Our applications to operate two more schools for 2008 - 2009 were denied. I can’t tell you the reasons because that information will be released by special request after the formal vote of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Thursday. Our applications were not among the eight recommended for approval by State Superintendent Paul Pastorek. I believe that all things happen for a reason. I can think of ...


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