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 BATS! At Tulane


Recently, young men from Harriet Tubman Charter School spent a Saturday on Tulane’s campus for Boys at Tulane in STEM (BATS).  BATS provides fifth through seventh grade boys with the opportunity to meet and work with role models in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Tulane’s program encourages scholars to actively inquire, investigate, and discover in a welcoming science and engineering environment. When asked why he wanted to attend BATS, Tubman scholar Jessie said, “It was important for me to go to BATS so I could have more experiences with Science. I went to have fun with Science and to learn about different subjects of Science.” The Tubman team attended a range of sessions revolving around different areas of STEM, including conservation biology, fossils, slime making, germs, and cells. They had a full day of interactions and inventing. The teams were given the challenge of engineering a catapult, and their day concluded with a team competition where each team had to submit and test their project. Tubman won the whole competition! For the second year in a row! “My heart wouldn’t stop beating when I demonstrated the catapult,” shared Edward, the 7th grader chosen to test the device, with Moneisha Cunningham, his Science teacher at Tubman. Teammate Tarik added, “My favorite part was making the catapult. It was made out of marshmallow, chopsticks, rubber bands, and a spoon. It was a forces activity. We wanted to see which marshmallow could go the furthest. We won the competition!”

“What a thrill for us as a school and for the boys,” exclaimed Julie Lause, Tubman’s principal. “Not every boy in that group thought of themselves as a scientist before they went, but all of them came home with ‘engineering competition winner’ in their repertoire. Events like this that motivate and inspire are what we do at Tubman.” Scholar Miguel confirmed Lause’s comment when he added, “I went to have fun and do cool Science things!”

Tubman Recognized for Providing Equitable Education


In 2011 when Crescent City Schools assumed operations of Harriet Tubman Charter School, it was a persistently failing school. In less than two years, Tubman went from an F to a C, scores climbed, attendance improved, and 8th graders began enrolling in high-performing high schools. Now Tubman is recognized as one of the top open-enrollment PK-8 schools in New Orleans and its leader, Principal Julie Lause, is a champion for providing all children of New Orleans with an excellent, equitable education. Last November, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released School Performance Scores (SPS) and, in addition to earning an “A” Growth score, and Top Gains distinction, Tubman received the rare distinction as an Equity Honoree. As defined by the LDOE, an Equity Honoree must demonstrate excellence in educating students with disabilities, students who are English learners, and students who are economically disadvantaged.

Lause is an outspoken advocate for an equitable school system, and striving for equity is a way of life on Tubman’s two campuses. As their school motto says, “We Make the Path by Walking.” Students are provided with the tools they need to succeed, including an excellent curriculum and inspiring teachers. When asked, Lause said, “Our strong work on curriculum implementation and tailored intervention for ALL kids is working. Our kids at all levels, in all areas are growing. This is a place where everyone thrives.”

There is more to it than curriculum, and the team at Tubman works relentlessly for every child academically, emotionally, and socially. 95% of the students Tubman serves are economically disadvantaged, 25% of the students have special needs, and Tubman’s program differentiates for every individual scholar’s needs. Tubman also has a gifted program that meets the needs of their learners at the top of the achievement spectrum. 85% of 8th graders enroll in high-performing high schools putting them on the path to college. During the day and into the evening and weekends, students have the choice to participate in a robust extracurricular program that includes athletics, drumline, leadership council, culinary arts, gardening, and more. Field trips happen almost weekly ranging from participating in STEM programs at Tulane, to visiting the WWII Museum, to exploring a cypress forest. K-1-2 students are thriving in a unique Montessori program, developing a deep focus on academic work and the independence to nurture their own interests.

For the 2019-20 school year, Tubman will be increasing enrollment at the 3rd – 8th grade campus to meet the needs of the community and will be adding more Early Childhood options with three new PreK classes modeled on their successful Montessori K-1-2 program. Tubman is committed to providing an equitable education to every student who passes through their open-enrollment doors as they continue on their path to excellence.

Harriet Tubman Outperforms in Growth and Excels with Scholars with Special Needs


Today’s release of School Performance Scores (SPS) for the 2017 -2018 school year from the Louisiana Department of Education shows that Harriet Tubman is among an exceptional group of 14 open-enrollment, K-8 schools in New Orleans that received an “A” grade for advancing student learning from one year to the next. Our scores in growth exceeded the averages of both the state and the city of New Orleans.

In addition to our “A” Growth score, we received two rare Honoree Distinctions for our scores in Equity and Top Gains. These honors acknowledge our ability to grow scholars, including those with disabilities, economic hardship, and/or English language learning needs. We are one of only two open-enrollment K-8 schools in the city to receive both of these honors.

Julie Lause, Principal of Harriet Tubman Charter School, shared “Every year we raise expectations for academics as our kids grow and can do more. We are so excited about the progress our scholars continue to make.”

Harriet Tubman is TOP TEN


Our tradition of excellence continues! Release of Top Growth data for the 2017-18 school year from the Louisiana Department of Education shows that Harriet Tubman ranks in the TOP 10 of all Orleans Parish K-8 schools for growth in English Language Arts (ELA).

“We believe that looking at student growth, meaning how much a student actually learns and improves from one year to the next, is a powerful measure of a school’s impact. These numbers validate the incredible commitment and hard work that our teachers apply to every individual student at Crescent City Schools. We are celebrating this accomplishment at our open enrollment schools and look forward to more growth in the  future,” said Kate Mehok, Co-founder and CEO of Crescent City Schools.


Staff Spotlight: Kathy Capra


Kathy Capra is a Middle School Math Resource Teacher at Harriet Tubman Charter School. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Kathy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts with an emphasis on Photography.

Kathy is in her 20th year of teaching and her 6th year with Crescent City Schools. It was a move out west that initially inspired Kathy to look into teaching as a profession. “After college I moved to New Mexico and had the opportunity to work with teens and decided that was my future,” she says. “I promptly started a Teacher Certification program in the Bay Area of California and took my first teaching job as a 6th grade teacher in Oakland, CA.”

As a resource teacher, Kathy teaches small group math classes for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, as well as two intervention classes. “I enjoy working with scholars in a small group setting because I can watch my scholars become more independent and see their confidence grow.”

Kevin Lapinski, Director of Special Education, has worked with Kathy since her first year at Tubman and sees Kathy’s dedication to her scholars’ success on a daily basis.

“Kathy truly believes all scholars are capable of growth (academically & socially) and will stop at nothing to ensure scholars see that in themselves,” he says. “Her persistence and success in this area drive Kathy to keep pushing.”

Kathy’s scholars also acknowledge how much she pushes them towards excellence.

“Ms. Capra helps me focus when I am in the classroom. She has also helped me to understand how important it is to be respectful, and how to show unity,” says 6th grader Ireon R.

“When I struggled with math problems she would help me out by giving me a pep talk,” says 7th grader Romeka W. “Ms. Capra has taught me since the 5th grade, so even when I was going through things outside of school she has been there to help me.”

In her time at Tubman, Kathy has not only inspired her scholars to grow, but has also used them as motivation to grow herself.

“Although Kathy has 20 years of teaching experience under her belt, she comes each year with a fresh perspective and a growth mindset,” says Kevin. “She loves diving into the content and thinking of new creative ways to teach the curriculum in a meaningful way.”

Kathy believes that this motivation to grow comes from the support she receives from the team at Tubman. “I feel very supported at Tubman. Kevin is constantly giving me opportunities to evolve as a teacher even after 20 years in the classroom.”

Kevin believes that by giving Kathy the tools she needs to grow, she can in turn develop a classroom setting where her scholars can grow and succeed. “Having the opportunity to see Kathy reach scholars, on all ability levels, some of whom also come in with such low confidence and then flourish, is truly an inspiration. She is not only a content teacher, but also someone who nurtures her scholars, pushes them to do what they thought they couldn’t, and celebrates their growth.”

Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Baudy


Jennifer Baudy is the 5th-8th grade social worker at Harriet Tubman Charter School. Jennifer received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and then went on to receive her Master of Social Work from The Ohio State University.

Jennifer started her career in education by working in a head start classroom and was inspired by the center’s social worker. “She seemed to work magic everywhere she went and was always focused on how she could support our students and their families. I was always impressed at the gains our students would make after her interventions and decided that I wanted to be a school social worker. I wanted to commit my work to minimizing the barriers that students encountered and help them be successful at school.”

With over 10 years experience in education, Jennifer still approaches each day as a new adventure. “The needs of our scholars are constantly changing,” she says. “In a single day, I can have individual counseling sessions, connect families to local resources, collaborate with instructional staff to support scholars in the classroom, provide crisis management, develop support plans, teach a socio-emotional curriculum, execute attendance & truancy interventions, and advise the students on our Leadership Council.”

Jennifer’s passion for education is something she developed at a very early age.

“I work in this field because I believe education is the ultimate equalizer. As the daughter of immigrants, education was depicted as a way to a better life, the key to success,” she says. “I understood its value at an early age and witnessed its impact in my life, as well as those around me. I continue to do this work because I want to ensure students have opportunities to learn, grow, and receive all of the benefits of a quality education.”

Carissa Kolakauskas, Tubman’s Director of Student Support, has worked as Jennifer’s supervisor for the past 4 years. In that time, Carissa has seen how valuable Jennifer is to the Tubman community. “For many families in New Orleans, there has existed a long-standing sense of distrust of both public schools and mental health agencies,” she says. “However, Jennifer’s genuine care and concern has allowed her to establish a rapport with both students and their families in a way that creates a sense of trust and partnership. She strives to ensure that students who may come from challenging situations feel accepted, loved, and supported at Tubman and develop the skills that will allow them to be successful in high school and college. It is through these strong relationships that Jennifer is able to empower families and their children to strive for academic success.”

Her ability to build this trust is not only seen by her supervisor, but also by her scholars. “No one knew about some of the things I was going through, but I knew I could talk to Ms. Baudy. She wanted to listen to me and help me work through some of the issues I was facing,” says 8th grader Romaya.

Jennifer believes that a lot of her success with her scholars is due to the fact that professional growth is encouraged among Tubman staff members. “I have had opportunities to participate in, as well as lead, professional development sessions at Tubman and within Crescent City Schools. I’ve been encouraged to expand my knowledge base and pursue continuing education programs outside of Crescent City Schools that are related to my professional interests and Tubman’s mission. The continual input between trainings and supervision meetings has strengthened my skills and challenged me to strive for excellence.”

Carissa has seen Jennifer’s growth impact the entire student support team at Tubman. “In the past four years, Jennifer has grown as a social worker professionally and will soon obtain her LCSW certification. She has also emerged as a leader for the entire team. Her colleagues look to her for professional advice and appreciate her ability to create and manage systems of mental health and attendance interventions.”

Jennifer’s love for the work she is doing and her scholars is obvious when speaking with her. When asked about her favorite memory at Tubman, she is quick to acknowledge her first 8th Grade Farewell Ceremony. “It was a special event filled with love, hope, and pride. The ceremony was the culmination of a year of hard work and the perfect celebration of scholars’ achievements. The evening was filled with smiles, laughter, and tears of joy as scholars were individually recognized, families beamed with pride, and staff members wished the rising freshmen well and reminded them that they would always have a home at Tubman.”

Tubman Welcomes Superintendent John White during his Statewide Tour


Photo by The Advocate Photographer Matthew Hinton

On Monday, November 6th, Harriet Tubman Charter School received a special visit from State Superintendent of Education John White. Tubman was honored to be selected, since this sort of visit is rare. They were also excited about his visit as it gave them the opportunity to show off their K-1-2 Montessori program.

The K-1-2 Montessori program has been highlighted for making significant progress academically as well as offering something unique and special for parents.

Photo by The Advocate Photographer Matthew Hinton

Principal Julie Lause expressed how this visit was a special recognition for Tubman and their K-1-2 Montessori program.“The way we think about building a strong foundation for learning is something Superintendent White and his team wanted to see first hand,” she said. “I am very proud of the work we have done internally to get to the point where others want to learn from us.”


Superintendent White was excited to visit Tubman and praised the work being done in the classrooms.

Photo by The Advocate Photographer Matthew Hinton

“This school is an innovative school that is doing things creatively for its families and for its children,” he said. “It’s also a great example of how the school came in, took over in a situation that was troubled, and has really turned it around. This is a school that is on the rise, and that’s great news for education in New Orleans.”

Click here to read more about the K-1-2 Montessori Program at Tubman

Recognizing importance of student growth, EdNavigator gives Tubman “B” rating


EdNavigator, a nonprofit whose mission is to help New Orleans families provide their children with the best possible education, recently released its own grades for K-8 public schools in New Orleans.

StudentsJumpingEdNavigator published its own grades for schools in Orleans Parish on February 2, 2017. Although the state of Louisiana already provides annual grades for schools, EdNavigator’s grades attach greater importance to student growth than those currently provided by the state.

Under EdNavigator’s evaluation, Harriet Tubman Charter School earned a “B” grade for the second year in a row. This grade reflects Tubman’s track record of student achievement, and better demonstrates the progress of students who begin the school year academically behind, make significant strides, but who may still fall short of the proficiency cutoff.

“Measuring growth is so important and we are thrilled that Ed Navigator is using its platform to educate the community about it . Just a few short years ago, Tubman was an ‘F’ school. We have made huge gains along the way, most notably creating an intervention program that supports struggling students,” shared Tubman Principal and Crescent City Schools co-founder Julie Lause.

“The ‘B’ from EdNavigator reflects that most of our students, even very low performing students, are making significant progress each year towards their goal of mastery. We are especially thankful to our teachers who work so hard to help every single scholar make these big gains. We are also grateful that EdNavigator recognizes the important role student growth should play when evaluating schools.”