School Climate & Safety Blog

After the Storm

Jim Randels was co-director of Students at the Center, a New Orleans-based writing project that trains high school students to become writing mentors for peers and to use writing as a way to improve their schools and communities. A former New Orleans teacher of the year, Randels was also on the executive council of the United Teachers of New Orleans (AFT Local 527). After Hurricane Katrina, he lived in Clemson, South Carolina. In this opinion blog, he chronicled his efforts to reconstruct the SAC program in absentia and find his way back to New Orleans. This blog is no longer being updated.

Education Opinion Students at the Center, Educators at Heart
The storm’s pushed me to the other side of the classroom door. It’s strange waiting in the office, pressing the visitor’s pass to your shirt, listening to the voice on the other side of the intercom saying, “Please send them up to my classroom.”
Jim Randels, December 9, 2005
3 min read
Education Opinion Educating Everyone
In late August, during the second week of school, Z tapped me on the shoulder right after class and asked me if I’d talk to him outside. Z’s big for his age and probably a couple years older than his classmates in my sophomore English class. He’d been struggling to make it to class every day, holding a white hand towel soaked in menthol rub over his face and working a pack of tissue to keep his nose clean. The first day he arrived with his summer cold gear I thanked him for making the effort to be in school and reminded him to wash his hands a lot.
Jim Randels, November 21, 2005
3 min read
Education Opinion A Legacy in Jeopardy
I keep thinking about Ed and Leatrice Roberts. Kalamu, Ashley, Maria, and I spent a couple of Saturdays there this summer. Maria, a rising senior at Douglass High School, sat between the two white-haired elders with dancing eyes and mischievous grins. They were on the couch, beneath the photograph of Dillard University’s college of education class of 1948. Maria’s head was bent over her notebook, except when she threw it back, braids and beads and all, laughing with Ed and Leatrice about crazy Ed dragging Leatrice on dates to union meetings or voter registration drives. Or when she looked straight at Leatrice, accepting and appreciating her elder’s stern, gentle question about how the boys were treating her.
Jim Randels, November 10, 2005
4 min read
Education Opinion The Story Circle
“I thought I had walked into Students at the Center (SAC) backwards, with a blindfold over my eyes and a false statement of what SAC really was. But then I turned around and slowly realized this is why I was meant to be here.
Jim Randels, October 28, 2005
6 min read
Education Opinion Public Schools: They're Trying to Wash Us Away?
Fourteen students, graduates, teachers, and community partners traveled to Clemson University from seven states for a working retreat for the Students at the Center (SAC) program last weekend. You can probably guess at the familiar reunion details: hugs, jokes, inquiries about classmates and family members, discussions of future plans, and lots of writing.
Jim Randels, October 17, 2005
4 min read
Education Opinion Starting With What You Know ...
“Start with what you know to learn what you don’t know.
Jim Randels, October 4, 2005
2 min read