She Went to New Orleans to Clean Up after Hurricane Katrina - and Stayed to Start a Charter School

By Guarino, Mark | The Christian Science Monitor, December 2, 2010 | Go to article overview

She Went to New Orleans to Clean Up after Hurricane Katrina - and Stayed to Start a Charter School


Guarino, Mark, The Christian Science Monitor


After Hurricane Katrina, Channa Mae Cook cofounded Sojourner Truth, a charter school with an emphasis on community service and social justice issues, to help lift up New Orleans' embattled school system.

The aftermath of hurricane Katrina has resulted in what locals here call a "brain gain": Educated and passionate young people are settling in New Orleans to play a role in its rebirth.

Take Channa Mae Cook. The city's comeback story surely will include a chapter on her Sojourner Truth Academy, a coed charter high school with a curriculum tailored around social justice.

The school offers open enrollment. "We take anybody who comes to our door," says Ms. Cook, its principal and cofounder.

In its first year, just over 100 students showed up for class. Two years later, enrollment stands at 260. Students are bused in from every quarter of New Orleans.

Cook helped open Sojourner Truth a little more than a year after arriving in New Orleans in early 2007 as a volunteer in the aftermath of Katrina. Some 80 percent of the city had been affected by floodwaters.

She painted hallways at an elementary school and helped organize and restock its damaged library. She also met educators who were sharing ideas about how the city's public school system, plagued by student poverty, financial duress, and administrative impropriety, could be reshaped.

Two months later, she and cofounder Kristin Leigh Moody submitted their proposal to open a charter school. They were aided by New Schools for New Orleans, a nonprofit organization that matches educators with donors who want to reinvigorate the city's struggling public-school system.

"We needed to get high-quality schools started quickly," says Maggie Runyan-Shefa, managing director of schools for the organization. "[Cook] had the willingness to leave her family and friends and a level of professional achievement to move to New Orleans to start a school for a population she really believed in. At the time, not many people were willing to do that."

Cook made a leap of faith to move from Los Angeles, where she had taught high school English and later worked training teachers.

The curriculum at Sojourner Truth makes connections between such issues as citizenship, equity, and leadership through great works of literature, a survey of historical events, and public-service work, making those lessons tangible to students.

Students may be assigned a theme - "what does it mean to be an innocent bystander?" for instance - and then track it by reading Elie Wiesel's novel "Night," or learning about the Rwandan genocide or South African apartheid.

Students are required to fulfill a community service project. Seniors must give 25 hours to a project that shows that not only did they identify a community need, they figured out a way to fill it successfully. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

She Went to New Orleans to Clean Up after Hurricane Katrina - and Stayed to Start a Charter School
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.