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Our school

Dear NOLA-PS Community,

We are in a moment of hope and joy as we wrap up the 2021-2022 school year. We successfully navigated yet another year challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the outstanding work of our teachers and staff, the leadership of our school principals, the devotion of our parents to their children, and the doggedness of our students in their quests to learn bring me great optimism for what is to come for NOLA Public Schools.
I am grateful to each and every member or our community for their investments of time, talent, and love to the achievement of our mission to educate every child, every day.
Our recent success is really a testament to years of consistent success; to years of constant striving to make better public education for each ensuing class of students. That foundation for the future would not be possible if we had let go of the experience, perseverance, and achievements of the past. Our district may stand apart from other traditional American school districts, but we cannot forget that public education in New Orleans has existed for 181 years. We all share a part in that history.
I want to take this moment to honor some of those educators who stood with us – and those who came before us – through it all, bringing the knowledge they earned and collected for decades in our public schools to the challenging but fruitful conversations that brought us to where we are today. Immense gratitude goes to Mardele Early, who has devoted almost 47 years to educating the children of New Orleans. Her amazing work shines in the faces of every student who passes through Lake Forest Elementary Charter School. We could not stand here today, at the start of smooth and successful transition to the next chapter of NOLA-PS, without her guiding hand.
To Mary Haynes-Smith, whose enormous heart has lifted up students and teachers in her schools for 44 years, I am so honored to call her a dear friend. While leading Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, she has been a source of great support and enthusiasm for me and so many of us working for the sake of all New Orleans students.
Velta Simms has supported and educated children in our great city for 56 years. From countless classrooms to her current work as a leader for the Friends of King Schools, she has made education a family affair. Her passion throughout the years has encouraged her siblings and her own daughter to follow in her footsteps for the benefit of so many children in our city.
And a special thanks to Kathy Reidlinger, who is retiring this year after devoting 50 years of her life to public education in New Orleans, 40 of those as the leader of Lusher Charter School. Under her leadership, Lusher was elevated and remains one of the best public schools in Louisiana, if not the nation. Her counsel has been invaluable as we navigated the groundbreaking transformation that followed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on our schools.
These educators are bridges linking so many generations of New Orleanians, both past and present. They are the through line of courage, compassion and care that our teachers, principals, and support staff bring to our students every year, every month, every day. Each of them wants their students to become their best selves, and to live their best lives. I am proud of their work and the work of all our educators in our school community.
Here's to a great summer for all! I hope you all take much needed time to spend with your family and friends. I certainly will!

In service,

Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.


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