Academic Jackets give students a sense of Pride

Academic jackets give students a sense of pride, accomplishment
Posted on 01/07/2020

Walk down the halls of any InspireNOLA elementary school, and you’ll see students proudly wearing school jackets.

But these aren’t your typical jackets. Instead of being earned through athletic achievement, these jackets are for outstanding achievement for academics. Students at Alice Harte, Andrew Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and 42 Charter School earn the jackets by scoring Mastery or Advanced on the state LEAP assessments.

“Academic achievement is our most important priority,” said InspireNOLA Chief Executive Officer Jamar McKneely. “We wanted to recognize our top scholars in a way that was completely unique and would serve as an incentive for other students.”


Though each school tailors their program, the general concept is any student who scores Mastery or Advanced in two or more subjects on the state assessments receives their school’s custom academic jacket. Students can then wear the jacket as a component of their daily uniform.

“We wanted to honor the unwavering commitment our scholars make to learning,” Dr. Wylene Sorapuru, InspireNOLA’s Chief Academic Officer, said. “The academic jackets inspire our students to master the skills it will take to be prepared for college and beyond.”

“Anytime that we are able to honor and celebrate our students for their academic achievements is a huge win for students, family and school,” said Wilson Principal Sean Goodwin. “The jackets allow the students to remember that they are the champions of academics, and in order to maintain your championship status, you must continue working hard daily.”

Students across InspireNOLA are proud of their jackets and the symbol of success they represent.


“It felt good receiving an academic jacket because it made me feel like I was improving and that I was one of the top scholars in InspireNOLA,” said Louis T., a fifth grader at 42 Charter School.

At Dwight D. Eisenhower, students are required to receive three Mastery scores to earn their jacket.

“It was crazy because I never thought I’d get a jacket, and then I found out I had four Mastery scores,” said Calvin P., an eighth grader at Eisenhower who received his jacket this year.

He said he wanted a jacket because he’d seen other students, such as Ja’Nyah R. wearing them in the building.

Ja’Nyah, a seventh grader at Eisenhower, received her academic jacket last year and then an academic cardigan this year when she received three Mastery scores again.

“I was excited because I was getting recognition,” she said. “The jacket proves I’m smart.”

Mr. Brookins, Assistant Principal at Eisenhower, said the academic jacket is “a symbol that brands our scholars with pride and confidence. Our students are future leaders who will take up space in our society and drive our nation to what it is destined to become.”

It’s this pride in their achievement that keeps students striving for excellence and encouraging others to do the same. Even in the hot New Orleans summers, students will still wear their jackets.

“Over the last two years, we have more than doubled the number of scholars who earned academic jackets for achieving Mastery and Advanced on the LEAP test,” said 42 Charter School Principal Jared Lamb. “Our academic jackets help to build a source of pride among our scholars and are a daily visual reminder of our scholars’ academic success.”

Talking with students, it is clear that seeing others with their jackets is an inspiration. Wilson sixth grader Sedrianne S. said she worked hard because really wanted to earn a jacket and “felt so successful when I got it.”

Harte Principal Robert Hill said they expanded the program at their school due to the number of students who received mastery scores. “Last year, we recognized 280 students, so we decided to include a new component,” he said.

This year, they created an Advanced Club. Any student who achieves at least one Advanced score receives a newly designed leather academic jacket. This fall, 67 students earned this new jacket, as well as an Advanced spirit shirt and free entry to school events.

Camden C., a seventh grader at Harte, said the jacket makes him feel like he’s part of an exclusive group.

“It feels really cool,” he said. “It’s like people you see you differently and talk to you differently when you wear it.”

Hill said he’s already seen the impact of the revamped program and celebration at Harte.

“It’s a great motivator. Other kids see the jacket and strive for it,” Hill said. “We expect it to be even bigger next year. Now this is all they want.”