Firstline Schools
 

Why FirstLine Schools?

WE BELIEVE IN...

Deeply Committing to Teacher Support and Growth

  • FirstLine recruits and retains a diverse group of teachers who hold high expectations for their students and strive to create joyful classrooms where students are responsible for doing the majority of thinking, writing, and discussion in class. 
  • FirstLine teachers receive weekly coaching and lesson feedback from a school-based instructional coach and also participate in network-wide bi-weekly Professional Learning Time.
  • FirstLine teachers are developed over their career using our “Vision of Excellence” classroom teaching rubric.

  • FirstLine has instituted a teacher career pathway that focuses on our commitment to developing teacher skillfulness. Teachers have access to increased teacher leadership opportunities and compensation as they grow.

Working to Becoming an Antiracist Organization

  • FirstLine’s commitment to doing what is right for kids is rooted in doing the necessary work of deeply examining policies, procedures, and practices to ensure we are working toward dismantling the effects of systemic racism on our students.
  • FirstLine partners with Overcoming Racism, an organization that seeks to build more equitable institutions through comprehensive race and equity training, which benefits all staff, and through us, our students, and their families.

Focusing on Social / Emotional Learning and Community Building

  • FirstLine is committed to training teachers in trauma-informed approaches that nurture supportive and caring relationships as the foundation of positive culture, enabling teachers to de-escalate behaviors and thus reduce suspensions.
  • FirstLine’s signature program, Edible Schoolyard New Orleans (ESYNOLA), teaches children and adults to make healthy connections through food and the natural world. Hands-on garden and culinary / nutrition education classes have provided FirstLine students with social/emotional learning opportunities since we built the first school garden at Samuel J. Green School in 2006 immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Through this work, students learn respect for life, the power of personal choice, and the value of community. 
  • FirstLine is implementing the Valor Collegiate Academies’ social/emotional learning curriculum, involving staff and student individual personal storytelling and reflection work and community circles.
  • We are committed to innovation, to constant assessment, and to making the thousands of small changes needed to keep improving our practice.

Offering Distance Learning and In-Person Learning:
A comprehensive approach for all students

  • When schools closed in March 2020, FirstLine transitioned to a distance learning model that was featured by the Louisiana Department of Education as one of two school systems in the state in its case study of effective virtual learning programs.
  • All schools began the year with 100% distance learning, welcomed Pre-K-4th grade back to in-person learning in September, and middle school students in October. Families were given the choice to continue to opt into distance learning for the remainder of the school year.
  • Whether school-based or distance learning, or both, the safety, health, and education of our students and staff is FirstLine’s main priority.

Creating a Sense of Belonging

  • FirstLine aims to create school environments that are nurturing and supportive for students, families, and staff of all races, socioeconomic status, and abilities to ensure inclusive, safe, and brave spaces where people can show up as their whole selves.
  • At FirstLine, we live by these Commitments:
    • I commit to my own and others’ development. 
    • I commit to listening and understanding.
    • I commit to speaking with honesty and respect. 
    • I commit to doing what it takes to serve others. 
    • I commit to keeping myself and others safe in mind, body, and spirit. 
    • I commit to brining my personal joy to our work. 
    • I commit to holding myself and others accountable. 

Striving for Academic Excellence

  • FirstLine fosters a culture of academic excellence and intellectual curiosity through instruction that meets the learning needs of every student. A FirstLine education helps students develop the academic skills and character strengths needed to succeed in school and in life.
  • We set expectations high for our students and develop teachers to have the will and skill to help them meet these expectations.
  • FirstLine aspires to offer classes that are rigorous, engaging, and joyful, where students drive most of the thinking and discussion, and we coach and develop our teachers and leaders to get there.
  • FirstLine utilizes culturally relevant curriculum that provides “windows and mirrors.” Our children are more engaged when they see themselves represented through a historically accurate socio-political lens that broadens students’ choices and develops them into justice-oriented, curious, creative global citizens.

Cherishing Family and Community

  • As New Orleans’ oldest homegrown charter school organization founded in 1998, FirstLine was created and always values its deep and long-standing partnerships with families and community-based organizations, churches, and local universities.
  • FirstLine partners with Valor Collegiate Academies and Tulane University’s Safe Schools program, a National Institute of Justice initiative, to teach teachers how to incorporate social/emotional learning and trauma-informed practices in their instruction – encouraging relationship building and providing emotional support for students during class, which promotes learning. 
  • FirstLine engages artists, musicians, writers, and athletic educators to create a rich array of afterschool and summer programs and classes, all of which are free and open to all students. 
  • FirstLine maintains communication with our families and understands the challenges our families face economically, especially during a pandemic, and works to link families to community resources and social services, working in partnership with Communities in Schools and our team of mental health professionals.