The Soul of InspireNOLA


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 The Inspired: The Soul of InspireNOLA" is a collection of portraits and stories that showcases InspireNOLA's greatest asset: our educators.

Rocko Richardson
Since I was roughly 13, I realized this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with kids and be a teacher. Nothing else mattered to me more than that. I knew I wanted to work with kids for the rest of my life. It’s a real passion for me. This is my thing. I promote community. I know through community we can take care of each other. Love what you do and have fun. That’s why I love coming to work every day.

Rocko Richardson
Special Education Teacher
Dwight D. Eisenhower Charter School
Venice Scott
"I have always had a passion for helping others. I love seeing that my kids have really grown. When that mid-point comes and you see that growth, I don’t know if you know the feeling but it’s a good feeling because I put my all into it. It shows me that I really did what I needed to do to get them there. One of my students is autistic. Wow, I wish y'all could have seen him in action. That was one of my brightest moments this year. The growth that he has shown - it had his mom and I with tears in our eyes. That was one of my proudest moments with that student."

Venice Scott
Kindergarten Teacher
McDonogh 42 Charter School
chris herrero
"What inspired me to become a teacher was my memories of being in the band when I was in high school at Karr. The best part about teaching is seeing the growth and maturity of the kids. It's amazing witnessing that transformation and how much of an impact you’ve had on those students and their lives in four years. Every day and every year, I make a new memory that helps solidify my decision to be a teacher. I come to work every day for the students. I’m here at Edna Karr because I graduated from here and I want to give the students the same love that I had when I was a student here. I had good mentors when I was here as a student, and I want to be that same good mentor not just as a band director but for any student here at Karr."

Chris Herrero
Band Director and Teacher
Edna Karr High School
sarah london
“I love the idea of understanding the child’s brain and how amazing it can really be if you push them. I don’t believe that any child is incompetent. I’ve learned that every kid is different, and every kid learns differently. I love small and large successes with kids and just seeing the growth that they have over the years. I do seriously push my kids and that’s why I think my gains and academic gains have been so great. The encouragement that I give to them brings a lot, and they’re giving me a lot back.”

Sarah London
1st Grade Teacher
Andrew H. Wilson Charter School
thuyvan vu
My inspiration is the students. The good thing about the ESL (English as a Second Language) program is that I’m able to follow them from year to year. I think that’s the satisfaction that you get because you get the whole picture. You get the whole child and then you get to follow that child through the years. You have that special bond with them. The ESL program is kind of like a safe haven for them. They speak more to you. They share more things with you.

Thuyvan Vu
ESL Teacher 
Dwight D. Eisenhower Charter School
jarmahn bright
Knowing that I’m making that difference. Leaving my little piece of the mark on what has already been established here, is definitely my reason for continuing on and wanting to be here. It’s definitely a love for what I do for the kids, for the staff. It’s that love just to be able to know that I am making that small, little difference in the school.

Jarmahn Bright
Visual Arts and Graphic Design Teacher
Alice M. Harte Charter School
peggy frank
Being a veteran teacher allows me to do things the way I learned but to also learn a lot of new things from newer teachers. I get a lot of different ideas from them. I am old school. I still physically cut and paste old papers together by hand, but you have to move with the changes because the students are different so you have to come up with new ideas to reach them.

Peggy Frank
Chemistry Teacher
Eleanor McMain High School
Kelly Tetreau
I think what inspires me the most is giving kids an opportunity for education that wouldn’t normally have had in their home country. That pride and that accomplishment that the kids get to feel it’s rewarding to me to get to experience that with them.

Kelly Tetreau
3rd/4th grade ESL Teacher
Andrew Wilson Charter School
Jason Hatt
It’s the perseverance of the students that I have. They come from different situations and socioeconomic backgrounds. They're all involved in different extracurricular activities, jobs, and organizations. And just to see them go through their struggles and still come to school every day eager to learn and want to learn and want to do better for themselves and their families really gives me the motivation to not want to give up even when I’m having down days. Because I know when I give up, I’m failing them and showing them that that’s the wrong choice to do. That really motivates me to do my best every single day.

Jason Hatt
Social Studies Teacher
Edna Karr High School
Lorenzo Lafargue
We have kids from every end of the spectrum here. We firmly believe we must take care of the holistic child. There are some kids that walk in the door on a daily basis and you don’t know what they left to get here. You don’t know what they’re going to return home to. You must meet them where they are. In saying that, you must be approachable. I instill a sense of familiarity, so I’m available to my students. It’s been a journey. I wouldn’t take anything else in place of this journey. It’s been very rewarding being an educator. You don’t always see the return on your investment right then and there, but 10 years later when that person walks up to you and says, ‘do you remember me? I want to thank you.’ Or, when you see a parent, and they say, ‘you made a difference in the life of my child.’ That’s when the reward comes.

Lorenzo Lafargue
Media Specialist/Student Leadership Teacher
Eleanor McMain Secondary School
edward denton

Growing up in an educational household - with my mom being a teacher- that really inspired me to want to become a teacher in order to follow in my mom’s footsteps. Then, what inspired me to go into mathematics was that I had great math teachers growing up all throughout school - teachers that I still talk to today. They inspired me so much to want to do the work. When it comes to math, when I see students who haven’t had good experiences with math previously. They come to me and I encourage them. Eventually, they'll say, "Ok, I got it!”

Edward Denton
Math Teacher
Dwight D. Eisenhower Charter School
kim plaisance

I had a little boy in my class who came from a very hard life. His mother was on drugs and he started off in kindergarten not even knowing a letter from a number. He didn’t know how to spell his name. Didn’t even really know his last name. He started off very low. And, just taking him in and knowing that he needed that love, that extra help.... And, seeing him grow so much. He went from a student that was getting zeros to mastering tests at the end. Just seeing the growth in how much and how far he came, even from a hard life. He was actually so inspiring that I named my little boy after him. He’s one of those kids that I will never forget because the odds were so against him

Kim Plaisance
Kindergarten Teacher
Alice Harte Charter School

sundy barjon
I went into counseling so that I could better service kids. As a student who was told I was not college material in high school, I just want to let every kid know that there’s something out there for them. That’s what inspires me. To make sure that after high school that every kid has some place to go and so that they can be a productive citizen.

Dr. Sundy Barjon
School Counselor
Edna Karr High School

ashley antoine

In my classroom, I'm on them. I have high expectations, but at the end of the day, it's a very relaxed, calm environment just because I've built relationships with them. We take time to be mindful as a class.

The kids have really taught me to be grounded and mindful. I speak of mindfulness in a way of being in the moment even when we get so caught up in the end goal. I just had to find how to be mindful and celebrate the little joys. Celebrate the very small, minute accomplishments every single day, so that I can keep myself grounded and focus on where we are.

When I enter this work, it's like I want to create a space for a child that is holistically supportive to who they are. Grooming them and teaching them coping skills. In my classroom, we meditate. You sit in silence and you're mindful for 5-10 minutes. In my classroom, we do yoga. I think a lot of our children experience trauma in the community in which we serve and how rude of us to come in and smash academics in their throats without even trying to build relationships with them. That's one big piece that is huge with me. I feel like I’m able to get a child to do anything and believe in themselves just because we start with the building of a relationship.

Ashley Johnson Antoine 
7th grade English/Language Arts and Mentor Teacher
42 Charter School


clyde lawrence

Something that is rewarding - and I say this often to the kids- is that a lot of my kids continue to sing even after their high school years. They go onto college and they’re still singing with the university chorus. I’m honored to say that I have four students who graduated from McMain and are actually vocal music instructors here in New Orleans. When I see them perform with their kids and are working hard, striving for the same perfections we strive for here, that does my heart really really good because it told me that something happened here that touched them and encouraged them to go on.

I've always had special needs kids in the choir. And, a lot of people think that ‘Well, they can't do that. They can't...' And really, they're often better at doing the choir things and the singing than anything else. Just to see them grow and to see them be able to do things - even if it's just rock the same way with the choir whereas when they first came in, they were just standing still. By the end of the year, it's rewarding to see that.

Clyde Lawrence
Vocal Music Instructor
Eleanor McMain Secondary School

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