InspireNOLA Schools announces Kevin Barnes, Jr. as Chief of Staff (sponsored)

InspireNOLA Charter Schools is proud to announce that Kevin Barnes, Jr. has joined the organization as Chief of Staff. He most recently served as the Managing Director of Engagement and External Relations at KIPP New Orleans Schools, which is part of the national KIPP Foundation, the nation’s largest charter school network. InspireNOLA Chief Executive Officer Jamar McKneely said, “As we approach our 10th anniversary, I couldn’t think of a better person to help continue our commitment to this city. Kevin is a proven leader and is dedicated to bringing diverse stakeholder groups together while bolstering the creation of a positive learning environment for our students.”

Chief of Staff (CofS) Kevin Barnes, Jr. said, “It brings me great joy to continue to advocate for the young people of New Orleans as I join the leadership team of one of the highest-performing school networks in our city. I am excited to work alongside some of the most talented educators in the region.

Audubon Charter School revives its Fall Fête at Live Oak campus

Audubon Charter School will hold its Fall Fête fundraiser and fair at its new Live Oak campus in the Irish Channel on Saturday (Nov. 5). After the festival’s two-year hiatus, Audubon PTO President Katie Pedroza expressed excitement, saying the festival is back bigger and better than ever with live music, activities, food and prizes. “We can’t wait to show off our new Live Oak campus. We will have bands, games, food, and spirits to be enjoyed in the backyard and under the oaks on Ninth Street.” Pedroza said. 

To kick off the event, artists such as Preservation Hall All-Stars, Sam Craft from Sweet Crude, the Miss Sophie Lee Band, Roland Cheramie and Friends, Coach O and His Band, and the NOCCA Jazz Ensemble will perform, a press release from Audubon Charter School said.

InspireNOLA Charter Schools launches citywide youth initiative to combat gun violence Oct. 12 (sponsored)

A student-led initiative that focuses on decreasing gun violence across the city. The city we all know and love is now the “Murder Capital for the U.S.,” and it’s time that we, as leaders across the city, act quickly to change this narrative. Recent reports suggest that youth in New Orleans are at the forefront of the current violent crime wave that has inflicted our city. InspireNOLA, a local charter school network in New Orleans, is refuting the new title with its latest initiative — NOLALove. A youth-driven and community-wide call-to-action, NOLALove is our response to the increased crime and lives lost to senseless gun violence ravaging the city of New Orleans.

Willow (née Lusher) School events to honor name changes

The former Lusher Charter School, now the Willow School, is holding four events to mark the name changes for its program and individual campuses. The Willow School charter board, the Advocates for Arts Education, operates elementary, middle and high schools on three Uptown campuses. The name of Robert Mills Lusher, a Reconstruction-era state school superintendent who promoted and instituted racial segregation in public schools, was removed from  the charter school program after years of protest. The school buildings, including one named for Lusher, also received new names. NOLA Public Schools, the parish’s school board and administration, changed the campus names in 2021.

Viewpoint: We’re still failing our at-risk youth

The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) and Educators for Quality Alternatives (EQA) announced their new center in New Orleans East on Wednesday (Aug. 8), saying it will “remove barriers to success.” Also on Wednesday, YouthForce NOLA, the city’s youth talent development intermediary, was touting a new round of funding for 13 New Orleans public high schools. The funds will “help students gain meaningful work experience and develop appropriate technical, academic and soft skills.” Though worthy programs, their leaders won’t be engaging the at-risk youth who need them the most — those who have no vision for the future and have long-since given up on completing a public school education. 

Despite YEP, EQA, YouthForce NOLA and other well-intentioned programs, far too many New Orleans youth still don’t have a pathway to success. Their parents might be poorly educated or underemployed and therefore forced to work two minimum wage jobs just to pay Entergy and the rent. Many kids survive on junk food because healthier foods are more expensive and not readily available in many of New Orleans’ food desert neighborhoods.

Lusher Charter School will be renamed The Willow School

After decades of heated controversy that boiled over in recent years, the Lusher Charter School board has chosen a name to replace that of avowed White supremacist Robert Mills Lusher. The highly ranked public school educating kindergarteners through 12th-graders will become The Willow School. The name is a nod to the Willow Street building where the school began educating students in 1917 and where the elementary students are still educated. The Orleans Parish School Board renamed the building itself for Dr. Everett J. Williams Jr., the first Black superintendent of the city’s public school system. Robert Mills Lusher was a Reconstruction-era state school superintendent who promoted and instituted racial segregation in public schools.

Live Oak elementary school to close at the end of school year, The Lens reports

The FirstLine Live Oak Charter School in the Irish Channel will close at the end of the school year, The Lens reported. The D-rated pre-K through eighth-grade school enrolled about 315 students this year, well short of its 500-student goal. An official from FirstLine, which took over the Constance Street campus from ReNew Schools in 2018, told The Lens’ Marta Jewson that the school had been operating at a deficit for several years, requiring the five-school local charter operator to subsidize Live Oak.

Cohen High offers its students a $100 vaccination incentive

Walter L. Cohen High School, at 3520 Dryades St. in the Milan neighborhood, is offering $100 to eligible students who have received or will receive the Covid-19 vaccine. At a vaccination event on Thursday (Nov. 18), around 40 students took advantage of the offer and received their first or second shot. The initiative began Sept.