Fighting Poverty with Passion
My name is Neal Dixit and I am a 5-week-old AmeriCorps VISTA member working at Homer A. Plessy Community School in the 7th ward. If the name Plessy sounds familiar, you’re correct in thinking that we’re named after the plaintiff in the case Plessy V. Ferguson. Homer Plessy boarded a train leaving New Orleans in the whites only car to protest a law passed by the Louisiana legislature. Plessy appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court where they upheld the ruling by a 7-1 vote. Only after 58 years was it legally known that separate but equal is inherently unequal.
Homer A. Plessy Community School (or just Plessy for short) is a very unique school. The founders of the school wanted students to learn by a teaching method pioneered by the Italian educator Loris Malaguzzi. He developed an education system centered around self-guided student learning. Coining it after the village he taught, his method was called the Reggio-Emilia method.
We here at Plessy have taken it a step further by heavily integrating arts into the curriculum. That means there just isn’t art class or music class but there is also art involved in every subject. Whether our kids are demonstrating the concept of area by painting or learning geography by drawing the African savannah, we believe art is a central pillar in a child’s understanding of the world.
Plessy is only in its second year (first day of school is August 25th!) and is currently serving pre-k through 3rd grade. However, it will expand every year one grade at a time until it’s Pre-k-8th.
Before I disappear for a month (from this blog), how about a little about why I wanted to be a part of the Plessy team and what I’m enjoying here so far. Why I wanted to join was simple: I was particularly interested in education, believing that access to quality early education to be a vital component to success in life. I also wanted to have an impact that was large enough to make a difference in many children but at the same time provide tangible proof of my contribution. A school was the perfect opportunity; here I’ll see first hand the influence that passionate educators can have on a child’s trajectory in life. I’m excited for the year to start and I’m positive just like my principal that this school will be awesome.