Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Welcome To Wheatley Open House

This past Saturday John Dibert Community School at Phyllis Wheatley held the Welcome to Wheatley Open House event. The event, which featured a second line led by New Creations Brass Band, food trucks and information tables about our community partners, was a big success.
To get things started strong and to put everyone in the New Orleans spirit, New Creations Brass band led a second line around the block of Wheatley. Along with great music, theWheatley dance team showed off their impressive skills while accompanying the second line around the block. After finishing the route, everyone went inside to learn more about our different community partners and take student-led schools tours.  Some our partners included Youth Run NOLA, NewCity, Boys Town, Prime Time Reading, City Year, Whole Foods, Willie Mae’s Scotch House, Amerigroup, Sojourner Truth Community Center, and of course, The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, a signature program of FirstLine Schools.
The event also featured great local food from different area food trucks, including Pinkberry, Grill it Out, and Danielle’s Snowballs. All the attendees got a ticket so they could sample some of the local food, free of charge.
To wrap up the great day, everyone gathered in the gym for a raffle drawing and a message from our CEO, Jay Altman. After the drawing everyone was surprised, and delighted, with a special performance of “Wonderful World” by some of our very own Wheatley first graders.
We at FirstLine could not be more pleased with the event. We would like to give a shout-out to all the great students, community partners and families that came out to the event. We would also like to give a shout-out to everyone who volunteered and gave donations to help make this event happen. Lastly, we would like to give a HUGE shout-out to the amazing staff at Wheatley for making this event possible and our Director of Communication and Community Partnerships, Dominique Harris, for bringing it all together.

For more information about upcoming events at Wheatley or any of our FirstLine schools, visit our website www.firstlineschools.org and follow us on twitter @firstlineNOLA

Friday, October 17, 2014

Welcome To Wheatley Open House!

Need something fun to do this Saturday (October 18th) that is family-friendly and open to the whole community? Look no further than the John Dibert Community School at Phyllis Wheatley’s Welcome to Wheatley Community Open House! The event is taking place at the beautifully renovated Wheatley campus, located at 2300 Dumaine from 2 to 5 p.m. 
The event will feature a second line, food trucks, as well as presentations and information about our great community partners. We would like to encourage all community members to come out, bring their families and friends and enjoy all the fun activities.

This is the first year Wheatley has been open since the renovations began. Wheatley has a long-standing tradition of being open and active in the community. We at FirstLine are honored to continue this rich tradition and look forward to seeing families and scholars from all of our schools and communities. Community, food, family and fun, can’t beat it!
For more information about FirstLine Schools and other upcoming events please visit www.FirstLineSchools.org and follow us on twitter @FirstLineNola 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meet Isaac and Jesse

FirstLine Schools would like to formally introduce two of the newest team members Isaac Henry and Jesse Short. Isaac and Jesse are both Louisiana Delta Service Corps members serving at FirstLine. Isaac and Jesse began their service at FirstLine in September and will complete their service at the end of July.
                   (Left: Isaac Henry. Right: Jesse Short)

Isaac is coming to FirstLine from Shelbourne Falls, Massachusetts. Isaac attended, and graduated from, the University of Vermont in Burlington where he studied political science. Upon graduating, Isaac served for one year as a City Year member in Baton Rouge. He came to FirstLine to serve as the Volunteer Coordinator. Isaac will be helping with the on-boarding of new volunteers and participating with volunteer recruitment.    
Jesse is coming to FirstLine from Omaha, Nebraska. Jesse attended, and graduated from, the University of Nebraska Omaha where he studied public relations and advertising. Jesse will be serving as the Technology and Social media coordinator for FirstLine. He will be working on different projects that involve social media and other internal and external communications projects.

We at FirstLine would like to welcome Isaac and Jesse to the team and look forward to having a productive year!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Golden Tennis Racquet

On Wednesday morning, Arthur Ashe Charter scholars in grades kindergarten through 3rd, gathered in the school's gymnasium to find out who would be awarded the coveted golden tennis racquet. The golden tennis racquet is awarded to the class with the best attendance (at least 97 percent) for the week. It is a point of pride for our #AsheChater scholars and they are always excited to see who the winner will be.

The tradition of the golden tennis racquet is inspired by the school’s namesake, Arthur Ashe. Not only was Ashe a world-class athlete and champion, he was the embodiment of good sportsmanship and class. Ashe showed tenacity, humility and graciousness when competing. These are some of the qualities we strive to instill in our scholars every day. Traditions, like the golden tennis racquet, allow us to show respect for those who inspire us, as we set out to inspire others.

Jesse Short is a Louisiana Delta Service Corps member serving at FirstLine Schools as the Technology and Social Media Coordinator. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Market-to-Table at Arthur Ashe Charter School

The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans put on its annual Market to Table event with our third graders at Arthur Ashe Charter School. Local chefs work with students, sharing their passion and knowledge of cooking, to help create a dish with local ingredients from the Crescent City Farmers Market.

The day before the big cook-off, students ventured out to the Crescent City Farmers Market to purchase their ingredients. Then, on Wednesday, students and chefs worked diligently to create some delicious dishes to share with their friends and families.
There were eight stations, each featuring a pair of chefs, where the students joined in and helped prepare an array of dishes. Immediately, smiles came across the faces of the chefs and children alike as the day began. Some groups prepared appetizers, some main dishes, and others desert.

The groups were split up between the two teaching kitchens, which are beautiful facilities featuring stoves, refrigerators and prep stations, designed to teach our students and families about making nutritious and delicious food. Two of the groups set up in the hallway just outside the teaching kitchens.

Teachers and students walking by would stop to peer in and get a glimpse of the action and take a moment to appreciate the wonderful smells. The students all got the chance to go through different stations doing prep work, then cooking activities and finally, all helped with the cleaning duties.

After students and chefs were done cooking, everyone, including parents and guardians of the students, gathered in the band room to enjoy the food. The chefs set up a buffet-style line and served the students and guests, before partaking in food themselves. The room was filled with conversation and laughter. It was a great moment for all involved with the event to relax and enjoy one another’s company.

FirstLine Schools would like to give a shout-out to ESYNOLA for putting together such an amazing event. We would also like to send a shout-out to all the amazing chefs and volunteers who took time to come and get involved with their community and teach our wonderful students. Finally, we would like to give a shout-out to the parents and guardians of students who came to the event to show their support. Learning, community and food, can’t beat it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dibert at Wheatley Open House

John Dibert Community School at Phyllis Wheatley held an open-house last Wednesday night. Parents, guardians, and students flooded into the newly renovated facility, some seeing the completed building for the first time. The school was abuzz with energy as students showed off their classrooms and current school projects. The open house gave families an opportunity to see classrooms and interact with teachers and staff. Teachers and other school staff could be seen sharing success stories and giving progress updates to the wonderful families of our students. Every classroom had students beaming with pride for their work and families were delighted with the progress they were seeing. The event had a large turnout, made possible by the dedicated staff and volunteers at Dibert at Wheatley.

At FirstLine Schools, we always enjoy the opportunity to bring our schools and community together. We look forward to more great events like this that get our students, parents, and guardians involved and excited about learning.

We would love you to stop by! Please join us for the Wheatley Community Open House, Saturday October 18th from 2PM to 5PM. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The power of great teachers

Rita Pierson said, “Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” FirstLine School’s Sarah Bliss is that champion for an extraordinary student named Troy Simon. Ms. Bliss first met Simon when he was in the fifth grade. Ms. Bliss was teaching at a school in Houston set up for children who had been displaced after hurricane Katrina. Simon was one of those children.

Simon was not an exemplary student early on in his scholastic career. He struggled with fighting, paying attention and even showing up for class at all. Academics were also difficult for Simon, who did not learn to read until the age 14. After years of avoiding school, Simon decided he was ready for a change. While the path that lay ahead of him would be tough and there would be much lost time to make up for, Simon was dedicated to reaching his full potential and knew people were ready and willing to support him in his journey.

After an initial meeting with his high school, Simon reached out to Ms. Bliss, his fifth grade teacher. Ms. Bliss was instrumental in Simon’s progression toward educational success. Bliss continues to mentor Simon years after he first reached out for her help. It is because of their bond as student and teacher, mentor and mentee that Ms. Bliss was able to accompany Simon to the New York Times Schools for Tomorrow Conference in New York City. Simon was on a panel discussing new paths to college. He shared his story and the struggles he faced growing up in an impoverished household. Simon also spoke about ways to help kids from similar backgrounds get to and through college successfully.

Though Simon had a rough start to his education he is now a junior at Bard College in upstate New York. He is studying American Literature and hopes to be a fifth-grade teacher like his mentor. “I am so lucky to have Troy in my life. He is living what we as teachers hope and dream will be a truth for all of our kids- living to his full potential and reaching his dreams,” said Ms. Bliss. We at FirstLine Schools would ask that everyone join us in giving a big shout-out to Troy Simon and his mentor, Sarah Bliss. Stories like these are what fuel our organization to do our best every day and fully support our staff and students.

To hear from Troy, check out his video: I am what I learn: Troy Simon.