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Meet a Teacher

"When you first start teaching, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the things you need to learn.

But the Assessment of Classroom Effectiveness (ACE) helps you concentrate on mastering the skills that matter most.

That focus really helped me."

Alexis graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Spanish and Urban Studies. Inspired by the teachers she worked with while serving at City Year in Philadelphia, she joined teachNOLA in 2013. As an ESL teacher at West Jefferson High School, she says the program’s emphasis on feedback has made a big difference on her teaching: “Every day teachNOLA lets you know what did or didn’t work. That feedback can be intimidating, but it’s so important.”


teachNOLA is really invested in your success, and gives you the feedback you need to improve quickly.

Through the Assessment of Classroom Effectiveness (ACE), you’re rated by the people in a position to give you usable feedback: the principal who hired you, the students you serve, and experts who really know the teaching profession.

Those ratings can be intimidating, but they help you set and work toward your goals. At the end of last year, I knew I still needed to improve student engagement, so this year I completely turned my classroom around.

Instead of waiting for students to ask questions, I now actively solicit them and it’s really changed things. I have students who used to get 30 percent on exams scoring 70s and 80s.


There’s a real sense of history and community here in Jefferson Parish, and as a teacher, you get to be part of it.

At my school, we take a lot of pride in our marching band. The band has marched in the Mardi Gras parade for years, and we’re known for sending students to play in marching bands at schools like Xavier University and LSU.

It’s been amazing to see community traditions like sports and the marching band—which took a big hit after Hurricane Katrina—flourish again.  

"You have to have a growth mentality for yourself just as you do for your students.

At my last school, my students improved from a 13% pass rate to more than 50%. That’s tremendous growth, but it’s still not where it needs to be.

I want all my students to perform at the highest level."

Marquise teaches fourth grade reading at Lusher Charter School. She earned a degree in Communications from Loyola University and worked as a sales executive before joining teachNOLA in 2010. Marquise was inspired to teach because she knew firsthand the difference between attending a failing school and a high-performing one: “As a teacher, I can singlehandedly change someone’s life – that’s my motivation every day.”


Growing up in New Orleans, I went to a failing elementary school. I know what it’s like to have teachers sit at the back of the classroom and not do very much. I know what it’s like to go to a school that doesn’t have toilet paper or text books.

I was fortunate to attend a great high school—number one in the state. I got a great education there, but many of my friends and even my sister had a completely different experience.

We’ve seen so many gains in New Orleans schools recently. There’s a great opportunity with all the charters and the high level of accountability. I wanted to be part of that. We have amazing talent and potential in this city. I wanted to make sure all our students get the richest-possible education and the opportunities I enjoyed.


Pre-service training provided a strong foundation for me as a new teacher, but I still had room to improve. Throughout the year, my coach would observe me and suggest three concrete things to change in my classroom. It was realistic feedback and it helped me grow.

Just like I differentiate instruction for my students, my seminar leader customized training for me. One time, she opened her school on the weekend and had her students come in to give me an extra opportunity to practice. The students were pretending and having a good time, but a lot of things that happened during that exercise later happened in my real classroom. It really helped me.

"Teaching is a fascinating, constant feedback loop where your successes and failures inform your practice and help you grow exponentially every single day.

I'm not sure many people can say that about their job."

Claire teaches fourth grade math at KIPP Central City Primary School. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, she spent several years as a museum planner with a New York City design firm and worked at the New York City Department of Education. She had volunteered with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and observed how a great teacher could enable at-risk students to defy expectations. In 2012, those experiences inspired her to join teachNOLA: “It’s so affirming to observe how small moments of success add up to big breakthroughs for our kids.”


I love New Orleans. From the first time I visited, I knew I needed to live here. The city is lively and eccentric; there is a feeling of community which was missing for me in New York.

Beyond that, the commitment to education reform here is inspiring and teachNOLA had a presence that stood out. I kept meeting people who had done the program and were still teaching. People in the community were really supportive.


Pre-service training was intense from day one. We were able to experience what teaching in a New Orleans school would really be like.

The program also provided the support and structure I needed so that if I failed at something, I could rapidly identify the problem and implement a solution that worked. Training helped me see what great teaching should look and feel like and confirmed that this is the profession for me.

I’ve only scratched the surface of how to take 40 minutes of a student’s day and turn that into something that propels their growth. That’s the process of teaching – to make students feel like a hero in their own journey.

But I know I’m reaching students because I hear about the connections they’re making between science and other classes. Almost weekly, a student tells me she wants to be a scientist when she grows up.