During the years leading up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, most of New Orleans’ public schools were failing and only 55% of students were graduating from high school. Then and today, almost all public schools in New Orleans are charter schools serving majority low-income students. As the flood waters of Katrina receded, the Greater New Orleans – Louisiana Delta community realized that New Orleans public education could—and must—change in order for our city to emerge stronger, healthier, and safer for future generations. State and local leaders acted quickly to capitalize on a rare opportunity to re-make an entire urban public school system.
In the Louisiana Delta, currently half of our students are growing up in poverty, and disproportionately these students are African American; this puts the Louisiana Delta parishes (East Carroll, Madison, Tensas, Concordia) among the most impoverished counties in our country (#16, 32, 34, and 81 of 3140, respectively, and all in the top 3% of all counties as of 2010 US Census). The majority of public schools in the area are well over 90% African American despite between 40-50% of the parish population identifying as White. Our schools are consistently ranked among the lowest in state by all measures; schools that earn a C or D from the state’s School Performance Scores are often seen as successful, while most in our region remain an F.
Teach For America – Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta
Teach For America – Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta (TFA-GNO/LAD) is the New Orleans-based chapter of Teach For America (TFA), whose well-documented vision is that one day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. TFA works toward this vision by enlisting, developing, and mobilizing our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence. Since its founding in 1990, TFA has grown nationally to include 53 regions with between 3500-4000 incoming corps members annually, in addition to an alumni base of more than 40,000 former corps members who have collectively reached over two million students.
When TFA launched in 1990, its New Orleans chapter began with just 45 corps members but, today, the region has a corps of over 200 serving the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard. In 2010, TFA expanded its work in the region to include two parishes in the Louisiana Delta, which began with 16 corps members. Since then, we have seen the impact of our teachers, in partnership with community members, with results in test scores, increased graduation rates, and opportunities for our students: today, TFA corps members and alumni comprise a full 20% of the New Orleans teaching force, over 50 alumni serve as leaders at the school or school systems level, 40% of Orleans charters are led by alumni, 2/3 of our alumni teach for a third year, three of our teachers in Concordia Parish began Conexiones: Costa Rica which is now in its third year and takes students to Costa Rica every June, a corps member was a finalist for Louisiana Teacher of the Year, and there are over 1,000 alumni living in the region, 91% of whom are doing mission-centered work.
In the nearly 11 years since Katrina, while TFA has been expanding its footprint in the city, the community has seen rapid growth in student achievement. Next year, we expect that not a single child in New Orleans will be attending a failing school, whereas this was not true for 62% of students just a decade ago. The proportion of our city’s public school students in grades 3-8 who score “Basic” or above on statewide exams has grown from 25 to 62%. Additionally, the gap between New Orleans student performance and that of their statewide peers has decreased from 23 percentage points to six. Still, while progress for students is undeniable, much work remains to be done to create a truly equitable system for all children and define what the next phase of education reform looks like across our state.
After nine years building, leading, and holding the vision for TFA-GNO/LAD’s work in New Orleans, Executive Director Kira Orange Jones will transition from this role into a new position at TFA in which she will manage the Executive Directors (EDs) of 15 regions, including all regions in Louisiana. Therefore, TFA-GNO/LAD is seeking a new leader, one equally committed to this unique region and the aggressive pursuit of excellent educational opportunities and options within it.
The next ED will inherit a strong team to lead, one proud of its ongoing and highly intentional work to operate a community-embedded and core values-centered enterprise, and one determined to fuel a strong and grounded local movement for educational equity. Over the past few years, the GNO/LAD team has focused intensely on articulating the defining principles for its work. These principles - referred to internally as “culture pillars” – follow and should resonate with the new ED:
We are bridgers. We synthesize, collaborate, and build upon strengths of others.
We are working for kids.
We are learners. We first listen and learn from those who have come before us.
We are innovators. We challenge assumptions and constantly push for new ideas in order to build a truly equitable city.
We are stronger together. We bridge differences because we know that together we can do more for kids.
In this spirit and with the help of this team, the TFA-GNO/LAD ED is responsible for building the force of leaders who will close the opportunity gap for our region’s students in both the short term and the long term. S/he will be charged with setting vision and direction for the region and ensuring that our commitment to these values – with particular attention to diversity, equity and inclusiveness—remain at the heart of this work.
Five key areas of focus are central to the GNO/LAD Executive Director role. S/he must:
Partner with a broad set of local community leaders and organizations to define what the next phase of reform will look like to end educational inequity in Louisiana by:
Preserve and provide leadership deeply reflective of the GNO/LAD culture pillars by:
Inspire, lead, and optimize the GNO/LAD team by:
Execute the fundamentals of not-for-profit leadership and management by:
Serve effectively as a national leader for Teach For America by:
TFA seeks a leader propelled by a palpable urgency to transform educational equity in Louisiana. Ideally, the successful candidate will possess a public speaking record that reflects an ability to engage and inspire diverse, local and national audiences. The ideal candidate will also bring a developed, sophisticated understanding of the complexity of the local political climate of the region.
Additionally the next ED must have the following experience:
The next ED must have the following skills:
The next ED must have the following personal characteristics:
The ED will manage a team of more than 30 regional staff members and s/he will report to the (emerging) Senior Vice President Regional Field Executive, Kira Orange Jones. Further, TFA is shifting toward a more decentralized regional structure and, as such, the ED will be charged to further explore board structure and governance and, in turn, s/he will need to cultivate and build a board that represents the community in which we work.
Salary and benefits
Salary for this position is competitive and depends on prior experience. A comprehensive benefits package is included.
Ideal Start Date
As soon as possible.
The primary Teach For America – GNO/LAD office is located in New Orleans.
To assist with this transition, TFA – GNO/LAD is partnering with Bellwether Education Partners, a national, nonprofit consulting and executive search firm focused exclusively on K-12 education and dedicated to helping education organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic results, especially for high-need students. Bellwether’s Talent Services practice identifies, places, and supports education leaders through comprehensive executive searches, customized advisory services, and individual coaching, and partners with clients to build talent-ready organizations where diverse teams can work, develop, and thrive. Monisha Lozier and Rebecca Knicely Cagle will be managing the process from Bellwether and, together, we are excited to tell the story of Teach For America – GNO/LAD and the vision for its next chapter. In that spirit, we welcome inquiries, ideas, and expressions of interest. The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until Friday, October 14th. Applications, including a cover letter and resume, should be submitted electronically. Applications and inquiries should be sent to: TFAGNO@bellwethereducation.org.
Anti-discrimination policy and commitment to diversity
Teach For America seeks individuals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds to apply for this position. We are committed to maximizing the diversity of our organization, as we want to engage all those who can contribute to this effort.