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School on a Barge?

February 15, 2017
Sunday-Charter-Writing-Fun-Day on the farm!

Sunday-Charter-Writing-Fun-Day on the farm!

My color coded calendar can’t even keep track of all my fun and frantic racing around Orleans and Plaquemines lately. I’m working on New Harmony High (a school focused on coastal restoration and preservation opening Fall 2018). It’s more than a full time job as the school leader, and we don’t even have kiddos yet! There is simply not enough time in day light hours to feed all the peacocks, cats and alpacas AND write a charter.

But lookie here: USA Today ran this nice little story yesterday about New Harmony High, our school on a barge funded by XQ Institute. It’s all happening, people.

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New Harmony High

September 16, 2016

If I ever take a big break from writing about teaching in New Orleans, it’s because I’m writing about something else. Here is the something else!

Last fall, I joined a team of dedicated educators and dreamers entering a competition seeking completely new and innovative designs for high school education. Our team’s vision: to merge student-centered learning with the fundamental environmental and economic challenges facing south Louisiana. The competition, known as  XQ: Super School Project, promised to award prizes of $10 M over 5 years to winning proposals. am excited to announce that XQ Institute selected our proposal, among more than 700 entries, as a winner. Thanks to this award, New Harmony High will be opening to Louisiana students in the Fall of 2018!

New Harmony High will be a game-changing public high school, using students’ passions, talents, and skills to address the very real challenge of coastal change. Bobbie Hill, New Harmony High team lead, sums up our vision: “Our dream for New Harmony High is to create an environment for students to explore the connections between their individual interests, their local communities, and the world. Through a robust real-world teaching and learning model, the school will directly integrate student learning with a dominant issue for our region – coastal restoration.”

As a first step, our team will begin an extensive community-engagement process to ensure that New Harmony High is a school that puts students at the center of their own learning, and at the center of our community needs. We plan to initiate community meetings as early as October 2016. To learn more about our vision, about upcoming community events, and to follow our progress visit www.newharmonyhigh.org.

Join us on this new adventure to make New Harmony High a Super School for Louisiana.

The New Harmony High Team

Aaron Frumin
Amanda Kruger Hill
Andrew Frishman
Bobbie Hill
Bryan Lee, Jr.
Casey Coleman
Elliot Washor
Heidi Andrade
Kirsten Breckinridge
Michael Stimpfel
Nolan Marshall, Jr.
Richie Blink
Steve Cochran
Steven Bingler
Sunny Dawn Summers

About XQ: The Super School Project:

XQ: The Super School Project launched in September 2015 as an open call to rethink and design the next American high school. Thousands of School Builders, and tens of thousands of supporters from towns and cities across all 50 states have united to take on this important work. Teams of students, teachers, parents, community leaders and many more came together to conceptualize innovative models for 21st century learning.

Since its launch, XQ has proven to be more than a challenge to create innovative high schools. It is a growing movement to reimagine what is possible for public education in America, and a hub for community voices, cutting edge ideas, and expert resources to create new pathways to success for students. For more information, visit www.xqsuperschool.org, and follow us at @XQAmerica.

About XQ Institute:

XQ Institute is an organization dedicated to rethinking school in America in order to create new learning opportunities for young people and open up the possibilities of the wider world. The Institute’s board of directors is chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, Chair of the Emerson Collective. The CEO and founder is Russlynn Ali, former Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, and Managing Director of Education at the Emerson Collective. For more information, visit http://www.xqinstitute.org.


More articles found here: Restore the Mississippi River Delta and The Times Picayune and Biz New Orleans.

Winning Word: Ambidextrous

January 25, 2016

The ELA Department at my school hosted a spelling bee last Wednesday. I love being at a school that has extra-curricular events focused on academics. Winning word: ambidextrous.

Dear All ELA Teachers of the World,

Work with your department to host a spelling bee. At lunch, dress up in sequins like Beyonce’ to hype it. Refer to your self as Spelling Bee-yonce’ and give out Honey Buns.

You’re welcome,

Ms. Summers

Four Years Ago

January 24, 2016

I’m so glad time keeps ticking. This was a blog post written 4 years ago, too sad to publish:

Reasons why being a first year public school teacher in New Orleans is frustrating:

I overheard 2 boys talking about how they stash their guns in brush piles down the block before coming into school.

When the woman who does PR for Crimestoppers came to talk to us about her job during the career fair, the kids kept whispering snitch in the back of the classroom.

Several of my 15, 16 and 17-year-olds don’t understand why we had career day, and don’t think careers apply to them.

Several students in the front row put their heads down during guest speakers’ presentations. One girl came in so stoned that the entire classroom smelled like weed within moments.

 

Says a Man Doubly Named Jerome

January 23, 2016
sunnydawnsummers_harrythecat

Harry Summers Baker, idling thoroughly

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.

-Jerome K. Jerome, humorist and playwright (1859-1927)

 

Trajectory

January 22, 2016
sunnydawnsummers_googlyeyes

Even with all these eyes, I still often can’t see.

As a public school teacher in New Orleans, I rarely take the time to stop and look at my own trajectory. I’m sucked into the daily grind of students and lessons and other school-y stuff that I forget that I, too, am headed somewhere.

This morning I saw this awesome collection of images of Hidden Patterns of Birds and Insects by artist Dennis Hlynsky, and, even more than my fortune cookie last night, it has me thinking. Big.

Being a teacher is dangerous. Being a pack leader in an isolated room is falsely secure. To my own detriment, this strokes my ego, soothes my desire to direct, feeds my arrogance. Outside of the classroom I find that I suffer. So do others. My frustration with things I cannot control seeps out of my pores. It’s rancid.

The nature of the public school system is that it’s designed to oppress. We are forced to work within parameters that we cannot set or alter. The big picture is always so much bigger than the single teacher can see. My classroom is a small dot in a giant landscape. And sometimes the dot is blinding. All the things I cannot change, fix, master become a fist in my stomach. Unable to be digested. Keeping me from flight. Altering my own trajectory.

New Building for Sci High in New Orleans

September 11, 2015
I'm a rain bucket is half-full sort of teacher.

I’m a rain-bucket-is-half-full sort of teacher.

Hi. Long time no write. Life has been busy, to say the least. But school started August 10th, and it’s glorious! I love my new group of kids so much. More on them later.

Today’s post is to report on new and exciting things going on at Sci High! After last night’s school board meeting where Miles Jordan and Casey Diehl spoke on behalf of our school, the Orleans Parish School Board voted all in for the approval of our money for a new building. Both boys talked about the student/teacher relationships that we have at Sci High that are so unique and special to our environment. It’s worth the couple minutes to watch just to see and hear what’s really going on inside our school building. It’s beautiful.

The $35 million hopefully means I won’t forever be in a classroom where the weather elements inside reflect the weather elements outside. Although, I must say, the tick tick tock of the rain is somehow soothing. You know, as long as the ceiling doesn’t come in.