You Only Live Once

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 02 2011

Oh New Orleans, How I Love You

So I’ve been in New Orleans for about 72 hours and I must say I absolutely love it! Everyone is so friendly and nice and the atmosphere is just amazing! The city has so much charm and it is so diverse! I know I’m sounding like a travel agent advertisement but it truly is that great.

Tuesday was when most people arrived and checked-in and we had our first big group gathering that afternoon, all 185 (ish) of us.  There are so many people here and it feels very similar to freshmen orientation in college which basically means it’s kinda awkward and a lot of repetition.  I’ve told probably about 100 people my name, where I’m from, what college I went to, what grade and subject I am assigned to and what charter organization I have been placed in.  In return I’ve learn the same information about them only to forgot it five minutes later because I’ve gone on to the next 10 people.  The TFA staff has been good about breaking us all into smaller groups of 10-15 for dinner and school visits which makes it easier to get to know people.

Being around all these people that are on the same page and have come to New Orleans to make a different is definitely inspiring and motivational.  During the “Welcome” session we heard from four previous CM’s, who are still working in education, about their experiences and what it takes to be a “transformational leader”.  They gave some great advice as did the teachers from the KIPP school I visited.  KIPP is known for its excellence and dedication to students and the school I visited is one of the highest performing in all of New Orleans (it just won a new library from Oprah and it was super cool!).  Their test scores are some of the best in all of the Greater New Orleans region yet these scores mean students are “showing, on average basic skills in math, English, science and social studies”.  Thus, if these students continue on the pace they are going (which is almost double of where they were performing four years ago) they will get a 19 on their ACT which won’t get them into most four-year universities.  This idea is CRAZY to me and really made me realize how large the achievement gap is and although many schools are showing large improvements in test scores it is still not enough!

On a totally different note…my mom came down here for the past two days to help me look for an apartment.  I was really trying to find a place to live before I leave for Atlanta because I start training with my new school July 11 but it was unsuccessful.  All the prospective places I had high hopes for turned out not to be the most ideal place.  However, I did learn what neighborhoods I do and do not like so that will be good in narrowing down the search in July.

One final thing: I ran in Audubon park this evening with some fellow CM’s and some TFA CM’s from two years ago.  They created a mentor running club for their students at the beginning of last school year and they invited us to join them today.  The park itself is beautiful and it was so much fun talking with kids and picking their brains.  Surprisingly the run itself wasn’t too bad considering it was 97 degrees at 6 p.m. and that I haven’t run consistently at all in the past year.  Who knows maybe I’ll get back into it…

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    New Orleans…New home, New Job

    Greater New Orleans

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