New Orleans Outreach Changes Lives: Case Studies, Success Stories
Colby (2nd Grade):
Colby, a second grader at one of our schools, decided he wouldn’t participate the salsa dancing class that Outreach offered because he thought it was “too girly.” He had heard his family ridicule boys who danced and he didn’t want to risk their disapproval. Seeking a creative solution, our school Outreach coordinator offered Colby the position of salsa class sketch artist to document the class and his classmates’ performance. He showed up for class every day, dutifully drew pictures, detailing the movements of his classmates and writing out the rhythm used in the dances.
After about a week of watching his classmates and seeing how much fun they were having, he came to our coordinator and the salsa teacher and said,
“I think I’m ready to try it.” He jumped into the class with both feet and lots of rhythm, moving to the music with his second grade girl partner like a pro. At the end of the semester Colby was chosen as one of the top dancers in the class and got to participate in a special performance. His mom rushed up to him after the performance, beaming with pride, and told him how proud she was of him. Colby beamed right back.
Arianna (Outreach Tutor):
The New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy (Sci Academy), a new high school that opened last year, focuses on preparing its students for college success. Often students enter the 9th grade years behind academically, but they persevere. They want to graduate from college and then change the world. These are big goals.
Arianna is an Outreach tutor who has been working one-on-one with a Sci Academy 9th grader who is learning to read. This student worked hard all year on her reading skills and has advanced her reading level by years in just one school year. Even with all the improvement she has made she continues to push herself. Arianna is so committed that she has created special flash cards that meet the specific needs of this student to supplement the curriculum. Outreach staff talked with this student recently about her reading abilities. She is excited about her ability to read so much better than when she first started at school. And what about her work with Arianna? Our student thinks her tutor is “real good, and helps me learn.” Last week we saw this student in a summer class. She was asked to read aloud, something that might be unnerving for someone who is only just learning to read. Not this student. She carefully opened her book. She read aloud with pride and perfection, her confidence and poise inspiring to everyone in the room. Her life has changed.
So has Arianna’s. She plans to start her own reading group in the neighborhood where she lives. Both of these young women will change the world, in part because of New Orleans Outreach.
Rayshad (3rd Grade):
We met Rayshad in his third grade classroom. Rayshad is a person who is very creative and sensitive, and to a great extent, seems to prefer to keep to himself. Academically, he is struggling. He has a difficult time keeping on task, and would much prefer to draw. In spite of his academic difficulties, we saw Rayshad shine last year at the school showcase that Outreach coordinated.
Rayshad and a few other students created a 3-D model of a city with pictures of themselves walking in the streets. This served as the set for a movie they made in an Outreach enrichment class, in which aliens are taking over the city. Rayshad was so excited to show us what he and his classmates had created, and it was easy to tell that he was proud of the film, and their model, and his contribution and connection to the project.
This project clearly gave Rayshad hope that he could contribute, and be part of something. It also gave Rayshad a chance to explore another side of himself, one in which he could excel, and have every reason to feel good about himself.
Jenny (Outreach coordinator):
Jenny, one of our experienced school Outreach coordinators, had volunteered at one of our partner schools before coming to work with Outreach. While helping out in a Girl Scouts class, she noticed a student named Ebony who continuously disrupted the class. This student acted up and out, at high volume, making it hard for anyone to focus on the project at hand. One day the class project was to make Mother's Day place mats.Ebony, at first skeptical, discovered that she had real talent, and even more important, really enjoyed making art. Not only that, but her art skills enabled her to help others with their art projects, giving her real opportunities to shine, grow, and be of service.
Outreach helped to discover this girl’s hidden talent, and gave her the tools to develop it. We believe the product isn’t the placemat; it’s the student, growing and learning into her full potential. Outreach provides experiences that are transformative.
Herbert (8th Grader):
Herbert is a very quiet 8th grader. He doesn’t talk much, but is always respectful and courteous, and good academically. When Outreach started offering our Power Ties career awareness workshops to Herbert and his classmates, he questioned whether it would be useful for him, and whether he’d have anything to contribute to his resume. “I haven’t done anything, so maybe this workshop is not for me…” he said.
Our Outreach coordinator probed a bit and discovered that Herbert has a passion for cooking. In fact, he had cooked for many family gatherings and cooked dinner regularly at home. He had no idea that this would be good fodder for his resume, or that his enjoyment of the cooking process could lead to a career. Our coordinator helped Herbert document his cooking experience, and he walked out with his first professional resume.
After that Herbert’s outlook on Power Ties and his own future changed dramatically. He thoroughly enjoyed the remaining Power Ties workshops, was engaged in the mock interview practice sessions, and wrote our coordinator a beautiful thank-you note about how much he appreciated the program and how it had changed his life. Best of all, he was able to visit Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant on the day of jobsite visits and he showed a deep interest in the business and restaurant operations.
Because the New Orleans Outreach Power Ties program helped crystallize his passion, Herbert now plans to go to culinary school after graduating high school. He has a clear vision of having a successful career doing something he loves, and he now knows the steps to take to get there.
Kristin (Sci High School Outreach Coordinator):
“This summer, Outreach provided an ACT prep class that included college visits for students from Sci High. We visited one college here in New Orleans, and then we visited the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. The students were really excited about going to LSU. None of them had been on the campus, and very few of them had even been to Baton Rouge. Most of them had not done a college visit before even though they are all going to be seniors. We took a bus over to campus, and had a wonderful tour guide. The admissions office explained exactly what the students needed to do in order to get into LSU.
The students asked many good questions and were really engaged with our guide. They got to see Mike the Tiger, visit a dorm, and sit in a beautiful new lecture hall. After the tour, we took them to eat in one of the school's cafeterias, so they could eat like college students would. They loved it! It was a really fantastic experience to be with them in that setting, where they could see the possibility of their futures as college students.
We talked on the way home, and while a few of the students realized they would prefer a smaller school (which is a great thing, too!), many were very interested in LSU. The program ended shortly after the trip, and I didn't see any of the students for a few weeks.
Later, I was in the main office, and one of the students, Ashton, came in to put a big envelope in the mail. I asked him about it, and he said that after his LSU visit, he had decided he really wanted to go there. He had talked to his parents about it, and they were really supportive. He knew what he had to do to get in and get TOPS money for tuition, so he had spent the last month after our program ended taking another class that he would need for LSU (the big envelope was documentation for LSU that he took the class), and preparing to retake his ACT so he could improve his score and meet LSU's standards. It was incredibly exciting to see that an opportunity that Outreach provided had such a big and immediate impact on his life!”
Claudia Barker (Executive Director):
“This August, I attended the culminating event for our Sci High students who had just completed paid summer internships at various businesses. Students made a visual presentation about their placements, telling all about what they did, what they learned, and how the experience has shaped them. One young woman named Bria told me excitedly about her internship through Xavier University in the pharmacy program. She said that she had worked at several pharmacy sites and really got to experience what being a pharmacist is all about.
‘Do you think you might become a pharmacist?’ I asked.
‘I’m DEFINITELY becoming a pharmacist,’ she said. I asked her whether she knew that before the internship. ‘No! I thought that being a pharmacist was just giving people medicine,’ she said, ‘But it’s not! It’s talking to people about their medicine and helping them.’ She went on: ‘For example, I know I don’t want to do retail. I want to work in a hospital or clinic. That way you get to make rounds and talk to people. That’s what I want to do.’
The Outreach internship program gave this determined young woman the vision that will see her through a rigorous academic program, allowing her to achieve her dreams. This is education in action. I felt proud to be part of an organization that opens the hearts and minds of talented young people. This is indeed good work."