Lucy Tucker, a recent graduate from Lusher Charter School, has been involved in the development and growth of New Orleans Charter Schools.

Before Hurricane Katrina, the public education system in New Orleans was failing its youths. After the storm, Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, a youth-based nonprofit organization, formed to give young people a voice in restructuring their own education. Tucker joined the organization at the age of 10 to make a difference in her city and in her education.

Every summer, Rethink meets to discuss an issue in the public education system – ranging from creating clean, energy efficient facilities to encouraging nonviolent solutions to conflict. At the end of each summer, Rethink hosts a press conference to propose school solutions. Before Katrina, changemakers in the public school system didn’t believe that the students’ opinion mattered – Rethink challenges that opinion by giving students a voice that cannot be denied.

“Rethink lit a passion for change within me that extended into many aspects of my life,” says Tucker. “I went to conferences all over the nation discussing our successes in New Orleans. Back at school, however, I kept to myself until I realized that school could also be an arena for activism.”

Tucker is highly involved within both the Lusher and the New Orleans communities. She enjoys seeing her activism spread from one person to another. “There’s a certain passion that I see in others as we volunteer together” she says, “a passion that spreads like wildfire.”

Mission Ignition, an organization compromised of Lusher Student Government Association and Franklin Student Council, partnered with United Way to host a competition to give back to New Orleans by cleaning up the parks.

“There were so many people that I’d never seen at service projects before; students that I know aren’t normally up at nine in the morning on a Saturday,” says Tucker. “I felt like students from every school were realizing we would actually leave this park looking better. It might seem like a small moment, but I felt like activism was spreading.”

Tucker’s mother, Claudia Barker, has been her inspiration to become an activist. Barker has always been active in the community, from working in education nonprofits to volunteering at their church, Barker is always giving back whenever she can. “My mom instilled a love of activism and philanthropy that I have carried with me through every aspect of my life,” Tucker says.

While at Lusher, Tucker was involved with the Gay-Straight Alliance and the student government as Vice-President. She is attending Smith College next year to major in American Studies with a concentration in Human Rights, and hopes to start a nonprofit that trains youth in nonviolent communication and forms of restorative justice.