Charting a course

Abramson Science & Technology Charter School. Abramson follows the Harmony School model, a college prep program connected to a group of schools clustered mostly in Texas. Harmony schools focus on integrating technology into the classroom, teacher subject specialization after the fourth grade, family visits and cross-disciplinary learning.  A science project is required of every student and it counts heavily in class grading.  Winners of the campus science fair compete at regional, national and international science fairs. There is a computer for every three students.

Albert Einstein Charter School. As its name implies, Einstein, located near the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans, focuses on math and science. In addition to a science lab, it has two computer labs and computers in every classroom. Space Day introduces young children to the concept of space with fun-centered activities such as an anti-gravity booth sponsored by NASA.  Academic games also focus on math and science. It offers English as a single language classes and special education.  Students must successfully complete each grade level in order to remain.

Algiers Technology Academy. This school is modeled after the New Technology School in Napa Valley, Calif., a nationally known high-tech school supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Each student has access to a computer at all times. Internships with local businesses are part of graduation requirements.  Three concentrations are offered: Business Systems, Graphic Design and Computer Science. It offers the Digital Arts Alliance High School Residency by Pearson Digital Alliance, a project-based program in which students develop digital portfolios.  

Alice Harte Elementary School. Harte focuses on creative arts for kindergarten through fifth grade and incorporates technology into the classroom in grades sixth through eighth. The school recently purchased computer interactive Promethean Boards, which allow students to take quizzes from their seats with a remote control.  Teachers can automatically pull up a graph showing what percentage of students chose the correct answer.  Students take practice standardized tests on lap tops.  They attend an enrichment class daily, rotating between such subjects as art, music, theater and library.   

Andrew H. Wilson Charter School.
Wilson partners with Edison School Education Management Group, which provides educational support for schools nationally and in the United Kingdom.  Parental involvement is encouraged through a monthly “curriculum night” that provides interactive academic activities for children and parents. The charter, written especially to promote the rebuilding of Broadmoor, favors Broadmoor area students and those who attended Wilson before the storm. The school’s General Pershing campus is expected to reopen August 2009.   
Audubon Charter School/L’Ecole Franco Americaine. This dual-program school offers a Montessori education and a French school based on the curriculum taught in France. All French teachers are internationally certified, and the French school is recognized by the French government.  In addition to academics, the schools focus on creating well-rounded individuals by offering comprehensive arts classes and physical education classes such as ballet, tae kwon do and African dance. Fifth grade French language students are eligible for a field trip to France to visit French classrooms.   

Benjamin Franklin High School. A highly selective school, Franklin accepts students based on grade point averages and LEAP scores. In 2006, Newsweek listed it as one of the nation’s most elite public schools.  Nearly 100 percent of graduates attend college and they are accepted by the country’s most prestigious institutions. For the past seven years, 100 percent of students passed the Louisiana Graduate Exit Exam. Concurrent enrollment with UNO is available. A full range of extracurricular activities are offered, including a wide range of sports, the Riverbend Review – an award-winning literary magazine – and over 30 clubs and organizations.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy for Global Studies. Eisenhower Academy focuses on the global aspects of society.  Every grade level studies the problems and contributions of various countries, with an emphasis on the countries of origin for the student body such as Africa and eight Latin countries.  The school is in the process of implementing virtual field trips to other countries via Internet chat rooms with cameras. An after school LEAP testing program for fourth and eighth grades is sponsored by the Urban League.   

Esperanza Charter School. Esperanza means hope in Spanish and that’s what it offers to scores of Hispanic students whose Spanish-speaking parents are working in New Orleans. The school’s target population is Latino students but it is open to all. The student population is about 60:40 Latino and African-American. Classes are taught in a mixture of Spanish and English. It is operated by the United Neighborhood Organization, a non-profit based in Chicago. A group of Chicago community leaders began the organization in 1984, to tackle problems in the city’s Hispanic neighborhoods.

Edna Karr Senior High School. Karr is dedicated to sending students to college.  It requires each student to participate in at least one extra curricular or community based activity.  Activities include Poetry Club, Robotics club, Forensics Club, band, dance team, flag football, and String and Brass Concert Band.  It’s a member of the Algiers Charter School Association, which gives operational and academic support to nine charters.  

Edward Hynes Charter School. Hynes offers a French immersion program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Math, social studies and science are taught in French by native speakers who follow Louisiana’s state curriculum. All students take French for at least 30 minutes a day. It is Lakeview’s only public school, and students living in the 70124 zip code are given priority in admission. Children of University of New Orleans employees are favored also because Hynes is a field site for UNO’s education students, many of whom are fulfilling student teaching requirements.  UNO staff helps develop curriculum.  All teachers are certified and 46 percent hold graduate degrees.

Harriet Tubman Charter School. Named after the 19th Century abolitionist, Tubman focuses on technology in the classroom and creative arts. Students develop technological skills with state-of-the-art equipment.  They also develop basic skills in music, art and drama.  Speech and physical therapy are available. Reading, math and arts programs are also offered in the summer. It is one of nine schools supported by the Algiers Charter School Association.

James M. Singleton Charter School. Chartered in 1998, Singleton Charter’s name honors former City Councilman James Singleton,  a member of the school’s governing board. In addition to an extended school day and voluntary Saturday classes, its Central City campus has been adopted by actor Danny Glover and visited by such notables as former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. The school uses the Glover endorsed Algebra Project approach for math instruction, which slowly introduces algebraic concepts to young children to prepare them for high school Algebra.  Another focus is art education, including poetry, story telling, drama and dance.  

John McDonogh 32 Charter School. The focus here is on developing well-rounded students.  The school motto is “Soaring to the Top.”  It offers special education, including a gifted program. Students are mentored with one-on-one reading programs. Social and psychological counseling is available. The curriculum is supplemented with athletics, music, drama, arts and social and academic clubs. Activities include band, basketball, flag football and String and Brass Concert Band.  

KIPP Believe College Prep; KIPP Central City Academy; McDonogh 15 School for the Creative Arts: A KIPP; Transformational School. KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of charter schools with a track record of success in urban and rural areas. Eighty percent of KIPP alumni nationwide enroll in college and in New Orleans, a large majority of KIPP students pass the LEAP test. Two more KIPP campuses are scheduled to open in New Orleans in 2008, serving over 1,000 students in pre-K through eighth grade. KIPP students attend an extended school day and a mandatory Saturday school meets twice a month. All teachers provide their cell phone numbers for after-hours homework help. In addition to a highly structured academic environment, each student learns to play an instrument and participates in field trips to places such as Washington D.C.  Each school has a band and McDonogh 15’s jazz ensemble has played live on WWOZ radio station.

Lafayette Academy Charter School of New Orleans. Lafayette Academy focuses on giving students individual attention.  Two teachers are assigned to all kindergarten classes and to fourth graders, who undergo mandatory state testing to monitor schools’ student achievement. Some classes have a student-teacher ratio of 11:1. A literacy specialist works with the first grade classes and a reading specialist rotates, working with small groups of children. It follows an independent school model, which includes assigning an administrator to each grade level.

Lake Forest Elementary Charter School. In addition to the academic program, the school offers visual, cultural and creative arts to develop well rounded students with a global perspective. The Ogden Museum pays for an artist in residence each year.  In 2006, an artist introduced tapestry making to students and the museum displayed student work in the museum.  The New Orleans Museum of Art provides a grant-funded dance instructor.  Classroom competitions encourage promptness. The Etiquette Club demonstrates skits to illustrate 51 rules of etiquette taught in the character-building program. Students in grades K-8 volunteer three to eight hours for community service. All students take swimming lessons.   

Langston Hughes Academy Charter School. Named after the Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes Academy has a history of focusing on art.  Before the school was destroyed to make way for a new one on the same site in Gentilly, the new principal rescued dozens of student art projects such as tiles and murals while knocking on neighborhood doors to find students before the August 2007 opening date.  Principal John Alford – Knowledge Is Power Program’s former Director for Trailblazing – follows many KIPP tactics, such as increasing instructional time, following up on absent students and providing teachers’ cell phone numbers for help with homework. A former KIPP principal from Harlem mentors teachers.

Lusher Charter School. Lusher Charter School provides an academic program for students in K-12 that leads to early college credit through Tulane University. Widely recognized as a high performing school, it offers a challenging curriculum and a comprehensive arts program.  The K-5 program provides a foundation of academics and arts for students entering the middle school and the sixth through eighth grades build upon that foundation in preparation for a rigorous ninth-12th program. All K-5 students attend classes in dance, theatre, music, and visual art. As students progress through middle and high school, they are able to select courses that may lead to a certificate of artistry or an area of concentration in mathematics, science or the humanities.

Martin Behrman Elementary School. With more than 96 percent of fourth graders performing at a basic level or above on language arts and math on 2007 LEAP tests, Behrman Elementary is one of the highest performing schools in the city. It is also the home of the Teacher Advancement Program’s 2007 Teacher of the Year, Brian Young. A Jazz and Heritage Foundation sponsored music program is taught on Saturday by local musicians. Its creative arts offerings include a marching band supported by donations from the Tipitina’s Foundation. Community volunteers meet with students weekly to mentor students and teach social skills.  

Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology. King partners with Dillard and other universities. Senior level students tutor students. Dillard students teach voluntary half day classes on Saturdays. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. public library resides next to the campus. The administration follows the Comer Process, a school model developed by a child psychologist that centers on team management. The team includes parents, community leaders and teachers.  The school emphasizes science and technology by holding science fairs and inviting scientists to lecture periodically.

McDonogh 42 Charter School. This pre-kindergarten to eighth grade school is located in Tremé.  A group of veteran Orleans Parish educators, including a retired area superintendent, founded the Tremé Charter School Association in 2006.  The group plans to open more schools in the Tremé area in the future. The school follows the Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum and has other programs under development.

Medard H. Nelson – UNO Charter School. Under the direction of the University of New Orleans, Nelson showed significant improvement in student achievement in 2007. Fourth grade students passed the LEAP test at a rate of 93 percent, compared to 42 percent in ’06.  Nelson was one of the state’s first charters, opening two days before Katrina struck. UNO’s charter school initiative operates as a department within the College of Education and Human Development. Nelson programs include TREE, Teaching Responsible Earth Education, a science learning program. Tutoring, mentoring and early childhood programs are stressed.    

Milestone Academy. Milestone SABIS Academy of New Orleans is a Kindergarten through eighth grade school, which aims to provide an outstanding education at a reasonable cost and to help all students achieve their full potential. The school fosters lifelong learning and prepares children for a higher education.

New Orleans Charter Middle School. First chartered in 1998, this school’s achievement scores improved after its administration changed class scheduling so that low-performing students could study a single subject, such as English or science, for a solid two weeks before moving onto the next subject. It reopened after Katrina with a small enrollment of fourth through sixth grade students who were performing significantly lower than grade level. The administration adapted to the challenge by focusing on English and math for the majority of the school day with a lesser emphasis on science and social studies.  

New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School. This high school’s success in raising student achievement scores began before Katrina and continues today. It focuses on math, science and technology almost exclusively. Even school electives are such subjects as geology, astronomy, botany, calculus, computer graphics and computer programming. It’s a STEM (Science, Technology, English and Math) school, a program sponsored by the National Governors Association. Students are eligible for paid summer internships with such employers as Chevron, the Audubon Zoo, and Tulane University. Rocketry students build rockets; Robotics students build robots. Its student body is 60 percent female.  

New Orleans City Park Academy. This charter, managed by the New Orleans Charter Foundation, focuses on computers and technology.  It offers a summer session for students with special needs.  Older students are paired with younger students to help them with reading.  A social worker is available.

New Orleans College Prep. This college prep school, chartered by New Orleans College Preparatory Academies and located in Central City, opened fall 2007 with grade six. It plans to grow one grade level a year until reaching the 12th grade. Students attend a two-week summer orientation to learn about academic standards and behavioral expectations. Low-performing students must attend Saturday classes. A recorded homework hotline allows to parents to check students’ homework assignments.  Teachers meet weekly for grade level and subject level discussions to ensure consistency. Parents must commit 15 or more hours to the school.

New Orleans Free Academy. This school, managed by the New Orleans Charter Foundation, focuses on visual and music arts.  A social worker is available.  

O. Perry Walker College and Career Preparatory High School.
O. Perry Walker, a high school with a long history in New Orleans, partners with local colleges for dual enrollment opportunities.  Qualified students can take college classes while still in high school.  Visual and performing arts are combined with traditional academics. Professional counseling services are offered.  Extracurricular activities include a full athletic program, robotics, band, dance, and school newspaper.   It is a member of the Algiers Charter Schools Association.  

Pierre A. Capdau – UNO Charter School. Capdau was the first “takeover” charter school after voters approved a state constitutional amendment to allow the seizure of failing schools in 2003. At the time, UNO promised to increase school performance by at least 20 percent over a five-year period, a promise it has kept. Capdau’s fourth graders passed the 2007 LEAP test at a rate of 72 percent; only 21 percent passed in 2006. UNO student teachers practice at the school.  UNO’s counseling internship program resides here.  

Priestley School for Architecture and Construction. Priestley emphasizes college preparation, design and construction skills. It offers studio courses for hands-on learning with skilled professionals. One of its goals is to encourage the continuation of the architectural craftsmanship that created New Orleans’ rich assortment of European-influenced housing styles. The school is an outgrowth of the charter movement and the city’s pressing need for highly trained workers to restore flooded landmarks and historical housing.  The school requires summer instruction. A sports program is under development.   

Robert Russa Moton Charter School. Moton focuses on giving students extra attention through a virtual 12-month school year. School begins in July and ends in May. During the school’s three-week breaks, the majority of students voluntarily attend a daily, 4-hour academic program.  Moton was one of the few New Orleans schools that scored well enough on test scores to escape state take over following Katrina.  Counseling, free after school programs and tutoring are available.  

S.J. Green Charter School. Green promotes its “edible school yard.” Academics are coupled with an emphasis on eating right and exercising.  Its Valence Street campus covers a square city block with half of it dedicated to a student-tended garden, a playground and a New Orleans Saints and NFL sponsored flag football field.  Students grow vegetables, learn about nutrition, and get instruction from gardening teachers and a chef. A “garden day” brings in parents to share the gardening experience.  A citrus orchard is planned for the future.

Sophie B. Wright Charter School. Wright Charter offers a marching middle school band.  A reading buddy program brings in community volunteers to read with students about an hour a week.  Tulane University students tutor assigned students at last three hours a week.  Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans provide psychological counseling for students.  Student achievement is encouraged by giving students who make a 3.0 GPA colored shirts embroidered with their names.  Excellent students also get a special shirt to wear on Wednesdays for reading two levels or more above their grade.  

Warren Easton High School. The city’s oldest public high school, Easton has graduated a long list of community leaders, politicians and other notables. President George W. Bush chose it as the location for his commemoration of the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29, 2006. The school provides a summer session for entering ninth graders and for students moving from 10th to 11th grade. Students must maintain a 1.5 GPA. Extracurricular activities include a full range of sports, a band and academic clubs.   

William J. Fisher Elementary School. Fisher integrates technology and art into the Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum.  It provides an on-site social worker, nurse, psychological counselor, occupational therapist and speech pathologist.  Technological facilities include two computer labs, a mobile lap top computer lab and interactive Promethean boards for second through eighth grades. The Positive Behavior Support Program rewards students with “Eagle Bucks” to be used for purchasing items in the Eagle Nest, the school bookstore. A full range of sports is offered including tackle football, boys and girls basketball and boys and girls track. Art classes include guitar, drum and keyboard instruction and liturgical dance.

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