Firstline Schools

About Us

Our Mission

The mission of FirstLine Schools is to create and inspire great open admissions public schools in New Orleans.

Our Vision

Our schools will prepare students for college, fulfilling careers, and a healthy life by nurturing students in mind, body, and spirit.


Strengthening the ability of students to succeed in rigorous academic classes by developing a love of learning, a foundation of basic skills, strong critical thinking skills, intellectual perseverance, curiosity, and creativity.


Enabling students to be strong in body and ready to learn in class by promoting physical fitness, healthy eating habits, opportunities for movement throughout the day, and sufficient sleep.


Individual: Developing strong character and good mental health

Community: Building healthy relationships and showing school spirit


1990: Summerbridge (Now called Breakthrough)

1990: Summerbridge (Now called Breakthrough)

The roots of FirstLine Schools trace to the founding of this unique summer program designed to help 5th and 6th grade students gain acceptance into top middle schools.

1992: James Lewis Extension

1992: James Lewis Extension

Working with a group of concerned parents, Jay Altman and the Summerbridge team founded this school, with 100 students and four teachers.  Dr. Tony Recasner became the school’s Director in 1993.

1998: New Orleans Charter Middle School (NOCMS)

1998: New Orleans Charter Middle School (NOCMS)

James Lewis Extension converted into a charter school and adopted a new name.  NOCMS became the top-performing open admissions middle school in New Orleans. In August 2005, flooding from Hurricane Katrina destroyed the campus and led to NOCMS’ closure.

2005: Samuel J. Green Charter School

2005: Samuel J. Green Charter School

Middle School Advocates (the former name of FirstLine Schools) was approached by the state and asked to take over the failing Green Middle School.  Green opened as a K-8 charter school the week before Katrina.  The school reopened in January 2006.

2007: Arthur Ashe Charter School

2007: Arthur Ashe Charter School

Using the NOCMS charter to open a new K-8 school (later renamed Arthur Ashe), this school opened with 42 students and has grown to its current enrollment of over 650 students. In 2012 Ashe moved to a brand new campus in the Oak Park neighborhood of Gentilly.

2010: Phillis Wheatley Community School (formerly John Dibert Community School) & Langston Hughes Academy

2010: Phillis Wheatley Community School (formerly John Dibert Community School) & Langston Hughes Academy

In 2010, we chartered John Dibert Community School (now Phillis Wheatley Community School) as a turnaround school to improve academic performance.  Also that year, FirstLine began managing Langston Hughes Academy which is now a FirstLine school. In 2014, Phillis Wheatley Community School moved to their new home located at 2300 Dumaine Street.

2011: Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School

2011: Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School

FirstLine began operating Clark as a turnaround school with a focus on Career Technical Education (CTE). Acknowledging the need for CTE on a larger scale, now provided by the New Orleans Career Center, and faced with declining enrollment, FirstLine decided to close Clark after the Class of 2019 graduated.

Summer 2016

School leaders and network leaders met to discuss issues of race and equity, along with FirstLine’s approach to race and equity, after the death of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

2016-2017 School Year

The National Equity Project partnered with FLS and provided training at Leadership Retreats. FirstLine formed an Equity Working Group and Steering Committees, which met to shape and guide the work at our network.  

2017-2018 School Year

Dr. Allisyn Swift, Race and Equity Coordinator, and the Equity Working Group created the FirstLine Commitments through collaborative work across the network. All FirstLine staff participated in Initial self awareness training at network PD day. FirstLine staff across the network participated in pilot Valor Circles, a key strategy in building relationships across lines of difference.

2018: FirstLine Live Oak

2018: FirstLine Live Oak

FirstLine Live Oak joined the FirstLine network as a transformation school and was operated for four years, two of them during the COVID pandemic. FirstLine took a leadership role in right-sizing the Orleans Parish school district by deciding to close FirstLine Live Oak at the end of the 21-22 school year due to decreased enrollment in public schools across the city and state. Many Live Oak families chose to send their children to FirstLine’s other four schools.

2018-2019 School Year

Network leaders and school leaders collaborated to reframe our race and equity work to be at the center of our work in Mind, Body, and Spirit. Network leaders participated in a series of trainings to be used to turn-key with staff over the summer and throughout the year. FirstLine’s Equity Working Group piloted Valor Circles with a race and equity focus. All-staff PD had race and equity choice sessions for all staff. FLS partnered with Beloved Community to spearhead diversity work at Green and at the network. FirstLine committed to creating a strategic plan related to diversity, equity, and inclusion from this work by early August.

2019-2020 School Year

Beloved Equity Audit Review. Leaders identified Organizational Focus Areas based on Equity Audit.

2020-2021 School Year

All FirstLine staff received Overcoming Racism training (July 2020 – February 2021). Virtual Learning & Afterschool Experiences.

2021-2022 School Year

FirstLine hired its first Chief Equity Officer. FirstLine created its DEI Statement, Commitments to Act, and Diversity Goals with stakeholder input (organizational partners, parents, staff, leaders, FirstLine Board). FirstLine leaders presented the DEI Statement and Commitments to Act to the whole organization. FirstLine’s Chief Equity Officer presented the Diversity Goals to leadership and new staff at summer PD). FirstLine launched Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain book study and leader training (summer).

2022-2023 School Year

Year of Action: Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain book study and leader and staff training continues.

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