Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools

So it’s my second…wait no, third? month in and the work pace has been picking up a lot more. Since my last post, one of the major additions to my job has been learning to write grants and working on them independently of the Executive Director. We’re currently trying to get funding to build a new school garden at Edgar P. Harney Academy for the both the school and the surrounding community to use. As a result, we’ve applied for multiple grants that support school gardens (I didn’t even know school gardens were a thing until recently), one of which I’ve been working on: The Captain Planet Foundation Grant.

The concept of a having a school garden that the students, staff and community can all use is something I haven’t heard of before but I’m loving it! In my opinion, it’s a genius way to reinforce a sense of unity and really bind the school in place with its surroundings. Also, my Ebio background is totally kicking in and I’m getting really excited because school gardens are a great way to show children how to appreciate nature, conservation and growing techniques from a young age. Not only that, students will be able to eat what they are able to grow, furthering their efforts since there will be a reward of sorts at the end.

Rethink has our own garden, as well, behind Art Egg Studios. Since clubs and committees have just started with the beginning of the school year, our two garden coordinators have also just started working on the garden and prepping it for our Garden Committee to use. They just bought 56 packets of seeds, some of which are apparently directly related to seeds brought over on the Mayflower…crazy.

Something I’ve began to love, but am not yet totally used to is the open culture of Rethink. The work space itself is pretty awesome, which makes me a little sad to be leaving within a month (I will talk about our move later). It’s got a ton of character and has accumulated pieces of artwork and crafts from the Rethinkers throughout the years.

Occasionally on school days, Rethinkers will come by and help plan which is nice for me since I don’t directly work with them. It gives me a chance to get to know the students in our program and helps to put faces to the names that are so frequently thrown around during our meetings and discussions. Something really fun and unique Rethink does is open and close each meeting with a “check-in/out question” that’s purely random and fun. For example, this morning our check-in question was “What media would your life story be told in and what historical period would you tie in?” Answers included, “a silent film montage!”, “an oral story…like the Odyssey”, and “mixed media”. People’s answers reveal not only a creative side but also a little background information on themselves. It’s a fun way to start a serious meeting and we also end this way on a positive note.

A lot of new staff was also hired during the beginning of this month. We had an addition of 4 new staff members, one of which is our new Executive Director, KG. She won’t begin working with us until November 1st, although she did drop in to house shop. The Rethink staff had a lunch potluck, and everyone was able to meet and greet her!

Rethink is also now looking for a new office space since our lease is over within the next few months. Originally we were looking at an awesome place across from Propeller that was connected to a french fry shop and next door to a bakery but unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out. If any of y’all have suggestions to office spaces, please let me know! 🙂

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This entry was posted on October 8, 2013 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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