Leadership Blog

Starting Over: A Post-Katrina Education

This opinion blog will chronicle the highs and lows of starting over in the new educational landscape that has become New Orleans’ answer to the question, “How Hard Can It Be?” There is drama on every corner but the story of how we are coping with the challenges and overcoming the obstacles may not make it into the books. Unlike most stories, this one does not begin at the beginning. Our story starts here and now. (Starting Over ceased publishing in May 2008.)

Education Opinion FINAL BELL
I wanted to make my last entry in the “Starting Over” blog distinctive by detailing a chronology of the last week of school. Unfortunately, everything was happening so fast that I did not have time to write about it. Today, I am reserving the time for this special piece of work. It is so important that I am pushing back everything on the desk, including submitting invoices for my consultant’s salary that help feed my family. Nourishing the intellect is a more valuable use of time and energy.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., May 28, 2008
15 min read
Education Opinion Congratulations!
Four hours ago, Board members, Tracie, Madonna and I, had the privilege of presenting awards to a few hundred students at our school’s first annual Scholastic Awards Ceremony. The auditorium was filled to capacity for this special event. One of the teachers did an outstanding job of decorating the room for the end of year assemblies. Giant sized students in graduation caps and gowns, spring flowers, and other figures adorned the walls.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., May 14, 2008
1 min read
Education Opinion Prayers Answered
The operation on our former principal was a success. She has survived a pulmonary embolism, cardiac arrest, a medically induced coma and more. Now she is “out of the woods.” Thank you for all of you prayers.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., May 10, 2008
1 min read
Education Opinion Racing Against the Clock
In the past, I have always loved the closing days of school. Not because it signaled the end of the session, but because it was a time to assess what had been accomplished and begin planning for the next year. It was like getting ready for New Year’s Eve. In addition to the awards programs, promotional exercises, graduations, end-of-year parties, Teacher’s Appreciation Week, volunteer recognition celebrations, and other special events, we had the test scores to measure our progress.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., May 10, 2008
4 min read
Education Opinion In Prayer
Yesterday was an emotional time for me, with shocking ups and downs all day. The best experience was picking up the trophies, medallions, and ribbons for the Scholastic Awards Night which is coming up in two weeks. The worst was news that a friend and colleague, our school’s former principal, was seriously ill and had been hospitalized.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., May 2, 2008
2 min read
Education Opinion A Beautiful Morning
The Professional Development day went off without a hitch. The atmosphere at the Basin St. Station was exciting. The meeting was held in the 4th floor reception hall with a view overlooking the neighborhood. The breakfast menu blended traditional foods with health foods. Good coffee is a requirement in New Orleans. We feasted on scrambled eggs, grits, croissants, strawberries, cantaloupe, sweet pastries, bacon, orange juice and yogurt.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., May 1, 2008
3 min read
Education Opinion Spring Fever
Do the students have Spring Fever? Have some of our teachers moved at a clip that was too fast and so hard that they are running out of gas before the end of the school year? Are there so many fires to put out that one administrator can’t possibly stay on top of them? I think the answer to all three questions is “Yes!”
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., April 23, 2008
4 min read
Education Opinion Supply and Demand, Amen
As I searched the aisles of Home Depot a little while ago looking for chandelier cleaner, I spotted the famous McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School Second Grade Teacher extraordinaire, Paulette Larkin, with her grandchildren making a purchase. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating her fame, but not her extraordinary status. She’s an excellent teacher who just happened to be pictured in a story on the front page of the Times-Picayune today. Okay, maybe it didn’t just happen, the principal selected her for the photograph, but she looks great in her photos. The photographer didn’t just happen to be at our school either. He was there because the newspaper was doing a story on teacher salaries in New Orleans.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., April 14, 2008
2 min read
Education Opinion Awards Day Plans
I’m going to have some fun before I call it quits for tonight. I am going to create the Awards Day form for our teachers to list the students being recognized for outstanding performances. The reviewers need it by tomorrow morning, so I am on a deadline. This blog will be shorter than usual.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., April 9, 2008
2 min read
Education Opinion If I'm on Time . . . .
I am going to an 8:00 meeting tomorrow morning to observe some principals in a focus group on leadership issues in New Orleans schools. This goes against the first of my four retirement rules.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., April 8, 2008
1 min read
Education Opinion Where the Rubber Meets the Road
It’s been one hell of a week in New Orleans. The weather has gone from beautiful, windy spring days to frighteningly stormy nights. We’ve had tornado warnings and now the Mississippi river is cresting at a level much higher than usual. These weather changes shouldn’t cause too much concern, but there’s something in the air that has folks jittery.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., April 5, 2008
3 min read
Education Opinion Money, Money, Money
My friend Sr. Judy Gomila celebrated her 50-year Jubilee at Our Lady of Holy Cross College Chapel this morning. It's hard to believe she was already a nun when I was starting Kindergarten. She's as vibrant and funny as she was when I met her in my early teen years. The Marianite Sisters had a convent about two blocks from my house when they worked in our church parish during the 1970's and 1980's. Sister Judy was our counselor and leader of teenage girls in the church. I've been thinking about money all day and that I can't seem to shake it. It started with her special celebration.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., March 30, 2008
4 min read
Education Opinion In Mourning
Many young people have been mourning the loss of Lance Zarders, one of my former students at Oretha Castle Haley Elementary School. I promised to post the link to his Guestbook where friends and family can express their sentiments. Lance was the second teenaged son to be murdered in the Zarders family. His brother was shot to death after leaving school in 2005. http://obits.nola.com/NOLA/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=105966497&PageNo=1.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., March 25, 2008
1 min read
Education Opinion Confession
I’m a procrastinator. I put off tasks that are tedious, unpleasant, or difficult until the last minute. I am rarely early for meetings, assignments, or church. I think that I’ve always been a little late, even for parties, weddings and fun activities. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, a beauty salon engagement, or a luncheon time with a friend, I will probably arrive a bit tardy. During my years as a teacher, I was on time because I rode with a friend. I was grateful when she picked me up at my front door, but I was hardly ever standing outside waiting for her.
Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D., March 24, 2008
3 min read