Living in New Orleans
New Orleans is one of the most welcoming, unique and funky cities in the U.S. The city is incredibly open and upbeat and filled with people who are always willing to give advice and help their neighbor. Founded in 1718, New Orleans has a rich historical background and served as a melting pot for many different peoples: from the French and Spanish, to the Acadians and Creoles, many different cultures and peoples call New Orleans home. The city has the feel of a continual festival – and that’s because there is almost always one happening! From Mardi Gras to Jazz Fest to French Quarter Fest, there is always an event to attend. Combine all this with amazing food, live music and consistently beautiful weather and there is a something for everyone to learn and experience in New Orleans.
Why We Need You
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the city was forever changed. The storm destroyed a huge portion of the city (flooding 80% of it), and many people were displaced from their homes. The devastation of the hurricane, combined with some school takeovers already happening because of poor performance, meant that many schools were turned over to charter management organizations that were given autonomy to improve student scores in the way they felt was best. New Orleans is on the forefront of the education reform movement in the U.S. Since 2005, New Orleans has transitioned to an all charter public school system meaning that students aren't expected to go to their neighborhood school; they can apply to any school across the city.
One of the biggest barriers in New Orleans is that Katrina is still relevant today. Both the physical and emotional effects of the storm can be seen throughout the city and in interactions with New Orleanians. With the transition to an all charter public school system, New Orleans has had to learn on the go. The system, which was originally decentralized, meant that schools didn't have ways to communicate with each other or share resources that would benefit students struggling with behavior, ELL students or students with special needs. New Orleans is slowly and steadily working to serve these students by connecting resources across the city and making sure each school is equipped to provide students with the education they deserve. Currently, about 60% of students in our partner schools are behind by more than 1 grade level. Our students are incredibly smart, kind and ambitious. Through partnerships like City Year, New Orleans is working hard to provide the much needed additional support its students need.
How You Can Make a Difference
Given the challenges facing students and the work to be done in education in New Orleans, City Year’s presence is crucial. City Year AmeriCorps members are in a unique position to support our students in their academic and behavioral growth. For example, one of our AmeriCorps members serves in 5th and 7th grade classes with 37 students. She works with her students in small groups of six to eight students at a time, planning and adapting standards-based lessons to respond to each student’s learning style and needs. The students in her intervention groups have, on average, improved their testing scores by 29.4% in the first four months of instruction.
Our AmeriCorps members strive to be stable, consistent mentors in our students’ lives – by showing up to school and interacting positively with our students every day, our AmeriCorps members build relationships that have lasting effects in the lives of our students.
City Year New Orleans has a very strong teacher pipeline with their partner schools. If AmeriCorps members are interested in teaching after their year of service, they are guaranteed to gain the skills, knowledge and experiences necessary to make them a qualified candidate. Our partner schools prefer hiring on our AmeriCorps members after they have completed their term of service as they know that the rigors of a year of service. Plus, their knowledge of the school system and culture make them an excellent candidate. Twenty percent of our AmeriCorps members become teachers after their year of service.
New Orleans is in high need for idealistic young people to work with students and provide them with the extra academic and social-emotional support they need to stay on track to reach graduation on time and be college and career ready.