The idea for this project started, following Hurricane Katrina, as a partnership between Tremper High School in Kenosha WI and John McDonogh High School in New Orleans LA. The intent is to provide, through a service learning environment, a program where students, staff, and community members from both schools, support and educate one another.
Pre-Katrina, McDonogh was in poor shape academically, asthetically, and emotionally....now the students and staff want it to rise upward. The students at McDonogh have formed a youth squad called the "FYRE SQUAD" to raise awareness regarding the educational system they are working with at their school and in the Recovery District. In October 2006, they called a press conference on their school steps to voice concerns over academics and other areas.
-until October, they did not have text books;
-the girls bathroom stalls did not have doors on them (a staff member bought shower curtains for the doors);
-the students and staff were served cold meals for lunch (a teacher brought a grill to school so they could grill hamburgers in the parking lot at lunch)
-there was no clean drinking water in the water fountains and local companies were donating bottled water for lunches;
-the rooms were in disrepair, although almost 200 volunteers, painted rooms, planted trees and cleaned up garbage at the end of October;
-the Library had no books in it until Tremper High School formed their partnership. They had all been thrown out because of mold concerns;
Principal Donald Jackson-a man who is pouring his heart and soul into improving education for the students, along with his very fine staff, has already done some unique things at McDonogh. He has challenged local politicians to come into the school and teach classes so they can see what the conditions are and how student's want to learn. The students can then voice concerns that will be heard first hand by law makers.
After reading about all of this and hearing from our great friend Christine Morales in New Orleans about it, we at Tremper decided to partner up with them and help out.
The last weekend in October we met at McDonogh with Principal Jackson and gave them a check from our school, with the money raised though sales at our school store by marketing students.
You should have seen the look on Mr. Jackson's face to have strangers walk in unannounced and give him this support!
After that meeting, and a chance to sit down with some very impressive students, we decided to create a partnership between the schools to allow us to work together to share educational experiences.
As McDonogh gets on it's feet, we are have helped in the following ways:
- We asked teachers at Tremper to consider giving professional "teaching books" to the teachers at McDonogh to help them improve their professional teaching skills.
- The students in the marketing classes held a "school supply" drive to help get the students materials they need to succeed in their education
- Tremper and the Kenosha community held a book drive, donating fiction, non-fiction, "how to" and instructional books for their library. We delivered over 10,000 lbs of books and school supplies!
But this relationship has even bigger plans!!!
We want it to be a partnership-so Principal Jackson has already begun the idea of he and some students coming to Wisconsin to visit our school. When we told the McDonogh students about our school store-they were very interested and are looking into creating their own. They will meet with our marketing students to see how ours is set up and operated by the students.
Prior to this-the students in marketing will be corresponding to gather and share information about each others schools and lives.
A sheet music and musical instrument drive is planned for early 2007.
If you would like to be a RECOVERY PROJECT partner school, please contact Todd Hardy: firstname.lastname@example.org .