Edible Schoolyard New Orleans Welcomes New Leaders


FirstLine’s nationally known signature program, Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, is proud to announce the promotion of two new leaders, both of whom previously served as ESY teachers for many years. 

Charlotte Steele began serving as Director of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans in July after eight years as a garden teacher at Phillis Wheatley. She formerly served as a Peer Support Specialist with trauma-informed Safe Schools New Orleans and is trained in Trust-Based Relationship Intervention methods. Charlotte is a lifelong learner committed to the practice of anti-racism – learning, unlearning and confronting whiteness in her work and personal life. She is working on an Early Childhood Post-Baccalaureate certification. Charlotte’s responsibilities as Director include observing and coaching ESY teachers, working with school leaders to make sure the ESY curriculum aligns with FirstLine’s goals for serving its students and families, and ensuring program quality. This year ESY will support FirstLine’s “Wildly Important Goal” of increasing achievement in math by incorporating 3rd grade multiplication skill building into ESY classes through fluency practice with body movements. You can learn a lot of math by following recipes in kitchen class (fractions!) and planning and measuring space for plants in gardens.

Zach O’Donnell is the new Program Manager for the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. He has been a teacher for 15 years in both traditional classrooms as well as in school garden settings. Originally from Chicago, Zach has a Bachelors in Science in Biology from Saint Louis University, a Science Teaching Certificate from San Francisco State University, and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from University of California Santa Cruz. He worked in urban agriculture in San Francisco, and community agriculture and development in Mozambique before moving to New Orleans. In 2014 he joined FirstLine Schools as the Lead Garden Teacher at Samuel J. Green Charter School. An avid gardener, Zach loves using gardens as hands-on teaching spaces to reinforce academics and foster compassion and confidence in young students. His responsibilities as ESY Program Manager will be supervising our small garden team to maintain four school gardens, supporting staff in producing the many ESY events for students and families, and documenting the program’s impact through data collection and analysis.