Fighting Poverty with Passion
I have spent my first few weeks with FirstLine schools helping teachers and support staff to prepare Clark Preparatory Academy for its grand reopening. FirstLine Schools assumed control of Clark from the Recovery School District in July, and the staff at FirstLine has done a fantastic job of restoring the facilities. The other Tulane VISTA assigned to FirstLine, Paul Kramer, and I, spent many grueling hours assisting staff in moving furniture, painting, organizing the library and supervising volunteer groups. The result, I think, has been great. The school looks remarkably different now than it did one month ago: the entire building has been repainted, the hallways have been redecorated, the air conditioners have been fixed and the grounds have been landscaped. Clark looks like an excellent environment in which to learn.
Students started school on Monday, which gave me the opportunity to see how Clark runs with students. So far, I am impressed. The students seem excited to be here and the faculty has hit the ground running. I also got the opportunity to sample the cafeteria fare, which was substantially better than what was served at my high school. My hat is off to Chef Chris.
Soon I will be transitioning to a community outreach role. I will be working with the Director of Community Partnerships to strengthen existing relationships and forge new partnerships with local volunteer groups, alumni associations, faith groups, community organizations and parents. I am excited to begin this work as I have faith and confidence in the FirstLine staff; everyone at FirstLine is smart, motivated and committed. It should be a great year!
–Mike Jayes, Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA, FirstLine Schools