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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Clark Prep at the Loyola Wolf Pack Invite

The Clark Prep's JV Cross country team had a good start to the season at Saturday’s Loyola Wolf Pack Invite.  

In the men’s 3K, Shawn Bangham took 4th place with a time of 12:36, James Scott took 7th place with a time of 12:49, and James Prince took 23rd with a time of 15:32. 

In the women’s 3K, Helen Williams took 14th place with a time of 17:31 and Delia Madison took 15th place with a time of 17:32. 

A total of five schools competed in the JV division. It was the 6th annual Wolf Pack Invite and was hosted at Lafreniere Park in Metairie. A big shout out to our Clark Prep Cross Country team!
For more information about Joseph S. Clark athletics please visit

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Watermelon Day puts FirstLine Students in Good Company

Watermelon Day is coming to FirstLine on Friday, September 19! LHA, Green, Ashe, and Dibert at Wheatley will be celebrating the local, healthy fruits in celebrations that are collaborations between FIrstLine and ESYNOLA teachers. Festivities will include educational games such as watermelon trivia relay races, fun activities like seed-spitting contests, and, of course, watermelon recipes and tastings. 

Not only is Watermelon Day special because watermelons mean pure summer joy for our kids, but because the farmers who visit are so inspiring. 

Farmer Ben Burkett--a fourth-generation farmer from Mississippi--and members of the Indian Springs Farmers Association have been bringing watermelons to FirstLine since the conception of the Edible Schoolyard at Green; this will be Farmer Ben's 9th Watermelon Day. 

When Farmer Ben isn't in the field, he's an activist, working to increase the income and enhance community development in some of the poorest parts of the south. In October, Farmer Ben will be awarded a James Beard Leadership Award for his support of the family farm and advocacy for the rights to wholesome food and clean water, air, and land. 

Join ESYNOLA and FirstLine Schools in welcoming this award-winning farmer! 

Also, the watermelons are delicious. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Get ready for Bulldog Football!

Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School's football team spent this past weekend at Paul B. Johnson State Park, getting ready for football season. The training camp focused on building a strong foundation of teamwork and commandery among players and coaches. The Clark Bulldogs are predicted to finish at in the top 3 in District-3A for the 2014 season!

Bulldog football will kick-off the season, this Friday, August 29th with a pre-season game against Cohen College Prep. The game will be at 3:30 pm at Isidore Newman located at 1903 Jefferson Ave.

Get ready for Bulldog football! Click the image below to watch the Bulldogs gear up for another great season.

Go Bulldogs!

For more information our Joseph S. Clark Preparatory please visit

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

FirstLine classrooms incorporate Physical Activity Breaks into daily routines

Since 2011, School Health Connection has been working to train teachers throughout New Orleans to incorporate more physical activity in their classrooms. In spring of 2013, teachers and staff at Dibert, Ashe, Langston Hughes, and Green began incorporating physical activity breaks, known as “Instant Recesses,” into their daily routines.

One student shared, “Recess is short, so with Instant Recess, it gives us a chance to take a break and get our blood pumping.”

But what exactly is “Instant Recess?” These short breaks throughout the school day involve activities like yoga and dance and give students a chance to unwind and reset while engaging in healthy physical activity and bonding with their classmates. Students especially enjoy showing off their best dance moves to their classmates or singing along to the latest Calvin Harris and tracks!

“Like all of us, children learn better and work better and their brains are more active when they are taking breaks occasionally,” said FirstLine CEO Jay Altman.

Besides numerous health benefits, these breaks can improve classroom behavior, memory, and concentration as well as re-engage and re-energize students, making for a healthier, more enjoyable school day. Check out School Health Connection’s video on Physical Activity Breaks highlighting some FirstLine students: