Fighting Poverty with Passion
This time of year is never quiet around OPEN. After wrapping up the Annual Convening, we immediately dived into the planning of OPEAS: the Orleans Public Education Awards. The goal of OPEAs is to provide high-profile recognition and celebrate the educators, staff and schools of Orleans Parish that have demonstrated excellence. Awards are presented after a VIP cocktail reception, followed by networking opportunities. The awards celebrate schools that have performed higher than state average consistently over 3 years (absolute achievement), schools that have significantly improved scores over 3 years (fast growth), and schools that have high teacher quality, community engagement, etc.
In preparation for OPEAs, I helped analyze the data that would determine which schools the OPEAs would honor. The process was difficult. In most of the award categories, there were multiple finalists who met the data requirement. We then visited the schools individually to get a sense of their school culture through interviewing school leaders, teachers, and students. Ultimately, the finalists came very close in the race, and it was difficult making comparisons when the populations each school serves are so inherently different. Where some schools showed better parent engagement, others had a visibly more rigorous curriculum. No one finalist seemed undeserving of the awards. Despite the lack of black-and-white answers in this decision process, all the finalists will be receiving some recognition for their work. After weeks of tedious excel analysis and visiting schools all around the city, I am happy to say that we have completed the award content for this event. We are continuing to plan the logistics.
In other news, our third cohort of PLTI (Parent Leadership Training Institute) has started. 26 parents and their children gathered at Audubon Zoo for a fun kick-off retreat, and will continue to meet Tuesday nights at Louisiana’s Children’s Museum to receive training. We are looking forward to make a positive difference for these folks!