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Crescent Leadership Academy considers ‘learning communities’

Crescent Leadership Academy is considering developing a small learning community, which creates smaller, more learning-centered units of organization, by next year, according to education director Tracy Joseph.

These communities serve up to a few hundred students, and are formed either by building new limited-size schools or by converting comprehensive high schools into multiple communities, according to the National High School Center. The goals of creating small learning communities are to increase student engagement and teacher involvement.

Joseph’s comments came at a board of directors meeting last week. Members Helen Berrigan, Kevin Maney and Maurice Lightfoot attended the meeting. Marlon Ford listened by  telephone. Jim Letten and Allison Albert were absent.

Berrigan, the board president, said the board had a quorum because with Ford listening in, four members of the board were present. However, in 2002 the Louisiana Attorney General’s office said that “one must be physically present at the meeting in order to participate in any manner.  Representation by telephone is not sufficient.”

Joseph also reported to the board that the school has added a second security guard on campus, and is considering hiring a police officer, citing safety in the community as a concern.

Joseph has requested to meet with state Education Superintendent John White to discuss the future of Crescent Leadership Academy, including the possibility of expanding the school.

Joseph commended principal Chauncey Nash and his staff for their diligent work, saying it was evident from the students’ progress.

Nash reported that Crescent Leadership Academy students scored the highest on geometry out of 15 schools in the New Schools For New Orleans high-school testing consortium.

Sixty-nine percent of their students met or exceeded the benchmarks for the testing set by New Schools For New Orleans. The organization develops benchmarks that emulate what students will face in the end-of-course exams, according to Nash. There are five total assessments, and students have completed the first assessment. They are currently undergoing the second assessment.

Nash also reported that Crescent Leadership Academy is in talks with Teach for America to recruit an additional core member to their staff for a current English language arts teacher vacancy.

Nash was enthusiastic about students having the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities at the school. Eight students will be funded by Crescent Leadership Academy to travel to Arizona to compete in a winter games basketball tournament.

The board is still searching for an additional member to assist with fundraising needs for Crescent Leadership Academy. It currently has six members, and the state requires a minimum of seven.

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