Recovery School District announces BR Achievement Zone Advisory Board

Recovery School District announces BR Achievement Zone Advisory Board

POSTED: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 2:30pm

UPDATED: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 2:34pm

Recovery School District (RSD) Superintendent Patrick Dobard announced the launch of the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone Advisory Board today.

The advisory board members are charged with assisting the RSD in engaging the Baton Rouge community and soliciting input on the priorities for the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone. The board has hit the ground running to acclimate themselves to the Achievement Zone by visiting schools and participating in roundtable discussions with various education organizations.

"Advisory board members are meeting with schools and education organizations to get a first-hand account of current challenges and conditions in our Achievement Zone schools," said Jason El Koubi, Assistant Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development. "It is critical for us to fully grasp the magnitude of the current situation, so we can have meaningful conversations with the public on innovative and sustainable solutions for our schools. A high-quality education system is a key factor in economic development and business growth. We want to ensure that we nurture home grown talent to fill the job opportunities generated by new and expanding companies throughout Louisiana."

In addition to visiting with Achievement Zone schools and Baton Rouge education organizations, the members went to New Orleans this week to visit various approaches to successful school transformation including start-ups and full school turn-a-round models. Advisory board members visited four of RSD's charter schools to observe programs and ask questions of their leadership to understand how transformation works. Advisory board members spent the day interacting with students that mirror the Zone's current student population. Seeing the New Orleans students thriving in a positive, rigorous and structured environment, helped members to visualize the path to creating high-quality, high-performing schools in the Zone.

"Interacting today with New Orleans students that have the same challenges as our students really opened my eyes to what is possible for our schools," said Bruce Miles, Advisory Board member and President of Miles Enterprises, LLC. "A common denominator I saw in each school was that the leaders and their staff were aligned around the same vision. Their school's culture was embraced by everyone from the principal to the teachers to the students to the support staff. Everywhere you looked you witnessed positive affirmation and reminders to students that they are all on their way to college and careers, it was inspiring."

Spending time in New Orleans gave the board ideas on immediate and long-term changes needed to improve the Zone schools. The RSD hosted the advisory board and New Orleans education leaders for a lunchtime discussion around school transformation. One of the lessons board members learned from New Orleans school leaders was the importance of engaging and involving parents and community members during transformation.

"As an educator, I appreciated spending time with colleagues in New Orleans to learn how they are creating positive school cultures that encourage students to see themselves on a path to college and careers," said Barbara Freiberg, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Member. "I value their commitment to working with parents and communities to shape their plans to ensure all students are prepared for a successful future."

The next initiative of the board is to convene a series of forums to stimulate public discussion around school-based priorities for schools located in the Achievement Zone. The board will compile their findings and the public recommendations into a comprehensive report. RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard looks forward to working with the board to help shape plans for transforming schools in the Achievement Zone.

"The board is comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders representing parents, students, and various community and business leaders from across Baton Rouge who have committed their time and talent to help us, as we strive to improve educational outcomes for our children," said RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard. "I look forward to working with them as they lead the community discussion around the school turnaround and transformation in the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone."

Baton Rouge Achievement Zone Advisory Board members include:
• Barbara Birkett - Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links Inc., President
• Barbara Freiberg - East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, President, District 7
• Bruce Miles - Miles Enterprises, LLC., President
• Cheryl Lott - Parent Representative
• Collis Temple III - Primerica Financial Services, National Sales Director
• Cordell Haymon-SGS Petroleum Service Corporation, Senior Vice President
• Craig Freeman - East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, District 6
• Edward "Ted" James - State Representative, District 101
• Eurica Gaston - Parent Representative
• George Guillory- Glen Oaks Baptist Church, Pastor
• Jason El Koubi - Louisiana Economic Development, Assistant Secretary
• Murphy Bell, Jr. - Jackson-Bell Attorneys at Law, LLC
• Pamela Metoyer - Better Baton Rouge
• Pat McCallister- LeDuff - President of Scotlandville CDC/CADAV, Inc.
• Raymond Jetson - Star Hill Church, Pastor
• Reginald Browhow - Parent Representative
• Robert M. Webb, Jr. - Istrouma High School, Principal
• Ronnie Edwards - East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council, District 5
• Stephanie Desselle - Council For A Better Louisiana, Vice President for Public Policy
• Terrance Lockett - Office of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, Capitol Region Manager/Education Liaison
• Twhana Harris -Business Owner & Community Organizer
• Vanisia Winston - Parent Representative

Dobard says that the advisory board is another positive step to guarantee accountability and equity for all schools in the Achievement Zone, so every child has access to a high-quality education. Advisory board members will analyze the current education landscape in the Achievement Zone and proactively solicit solutions and new ideas from the community that will help the RSD build a sustainable system of schools in this part of Baton Rouge.

"We have seen our schools suffer for far, far too long and I am eager to begin a dialogue with community stakeholders that have a shared interest in improving all schools in North Baton Rouge," said Pat McCallister- LeDuff, President of Scotlandville CDC/CADAV, Inc. "I look forward to sharing ideas and working with the community on how to build a stronger system that will prepare our youth for college and their careers."

Advisory board members hope families will take advantage of these opportunities to discuss their ideas, strategies and priorities around transforming their child's school in the Achievement Zone.

"Including parents on this Advisory Board was critical in ensuring families have a space and a voice in the conversation around improving our children's learning environments," said Reginald Browhow, a parent representative for the Advisory Board. "It is important that parents attend meetings when they begin and share their ideas on how to improve the schools within the Achievement Zone. Educating our kids starts at home and all parents should feel empowered to be a part of this process."

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