Wednesday, I woke up at about 7:30 a.m. and went straight to the computer. I had questions in my head that I needed to get on paper (or on the computer) before I forgot them. The questions were part of a Middle School Student Academic Survey for the 7th and 8th grade students at our school. I’ve been concerned about some to the behaviors that I heard about from the teachers. The purpose of the survey was to give us a better profile of our children and the baggage they may be carrying that keeps them from ...


Winter Wonderland is taking on a new shape. Way back in 2002, pre-Katrina, I was principal of Oretha Castle Haley Elementary School. It’s approximately two miles from McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School. But the two schools are worlds apart. At Haley, part of our Christmas tradition was to have a huge—I mean huge—winter scene with a giant decorated tree, animated figurines, and gifts. As the transplanted teachers sadly remind me, we aren’t at Haley any more. I was a fanatic about the holidays; the principal of our charter school is not a Grinch, just more reserved. ...


Yesterday, we had our monthly Board meeting at the school. It was our first chance to hold the meeting in a space that was easily accessible to the public. If we can get our web site up and running, the December meeting will be announced on it and we can hope for our parents and community to become engaged in the running of our school. The meetings are held on Saturday mornings to allow working people to attend. I am looking forward to planting the seeds for a true learning community in Treme. Even though this is the Bayou Classic ...


Slices of savory roasted turkey topped with a large scoop of cornbread dressing and gravy, baked macaroni and cheese, green beans seasoned with sweet onions, hot soft dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and scrumptious sweet potato pie were all menu items in today’s school lunch at McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School. How hard can it be to prepare this particular lunch? It’s the traditional Thanksgiving lunch that everyone has come to expect. At least, everyone who has a fully operating kitchen can expect it. Our school is still trying to get a stove, freezer, steamer, and other basic equipment ...


Ray Charles sang a song with lyrics that said “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” Sometimes I feel like our charter school association is in that mode. We’ve had some bad luck. In February 2006, we applied for three schools; all of them were among the lowest achieving schools in the New Orleans Public Schools district pre-Katrina. The schools were A.P. Tureaud, Wicker, and Craig. We were awarded all three schools, but Craig school was opened by the Recovery School District before we could take possession of the building. The ...


I was feeling pretty good about the salaries we are paying our teachers. The salary schedule was based upon the Recovery School District’s (RSD) salaries for 2006 – 2007. We added an additional $2,375 raise for certified teachers and $1,000 for other degreed personnel which the state granted in July. It was topped off with a potential $1,000 for teachers who participated in the two week pre-opening activities. It was a great deal for teachers because the RSD salaries were already among the highest paid in the state. Last week, we submitted our plan for the Hurricane ...


I'm on my way to the Annual Education Trust Conference in Washington, D.C. My plane leaves in 5 hours and I haven't been to bed yet. What's worse is that I have to fly with a sinus infection. Half of my face hurts like a throbbing toothache. I was up late trying to finish a grant application which is due on Friday. I'm going to sign the signature pages and leave them with the Principal. Hopefully, I can complete the budget pages on the airplane and email them to her. She wanted to hand-deliver the plan to discuss any ...


Austin is doing a wonderful job teaching his third grade class. His students are always actively engaged in hands on learning. This teacher is what we call a “natural.” His room is attractively decorated and well organized, looking better at the end of the day than many classrooms look at the beginning. Parents are already clamoring to have their children moved to his class. Austin is a handsome young man with prematurely gray hair and an infectious laugh. His work ethic and classroom are equally attractive. What I like best about his room is the lime green, sheer curtains that ...


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 ...


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