Some 50 Teach For America teachers who lost their jobs because of the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina should soon be back at work as managers in Louisiana’s recovery effort.
The new positions are the result of an agreement by state officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and TFA, a New York City-based organization that puts high-achieving recent college graduates in needy urban and rural schools for two-year teaching stints.
The plan ensures that those teachers will be available as the New Orleans-area schools that hired them reopen, according to the office of Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. The action should also help spread experienced staff members more widely as the TFA teachers take the places of current managers in disaster-recovery centers run by the state and federal governments.
‘Remaining a Presence’
More than 130 of the novice teachers had been working in New Orleans and surrounding districts, where many schools remain closed because of the disastrous storm in late August. Those teachers have not been able to get jobs in the districts that have taken in evacuated students, according to TFA officials. Those jobs have usually gone to permanent teachers who also were displaced by the hurricane, they said.
The TFA teachers are to work as deputy directors at about 20 disaster-relief centers, which try to help storm victims with an array of services. The teachers will receive training that includes shadowing current managers, TFA officials said. Many more relief centers are expected to open in Louisiana in the coming months.
“This is a way we can support our partnership with the state and honor our organization’s mission while remaining a presence here to rejoin schools as they open,” Mary K. Garton, the executive director of Greater New Orleans Teach For America, said of the new arrangement.
A few TFA teachers have also found work in a new Houston public school catering to evacuees but open to all students in the Texas district. The K-8 school, called NOW (New Orleans West) College Prep, is housed in a reopened school provided by the district. It is part of the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, a national network of free, open-enrollment schools serving poor communities.
Gary Robichaux, the founding director of Phillips Preparatory School, a KIPP school in New Orleans that was shut down because of Hurricane Katrina, will head the new school.
TFA members, along with alumni of the program, will staff it, according to a statement from TFA officials.
A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2005 edition of Education Week as Displaced TFA Corps to Work in Louisiana Relief Centers