May 18, 2021

FirstLine Schools’ Phillis Wheatley Community School recognized as a Louisiana model for high-quality teaching and learning around early literacy

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley surprised Phillis Wheatley Community School faculty, staff and students with a new statewide award that recognizes educational excellence. Louisiana Models of Excellence honors schools that serve as a state model in meeting one of the Louisiana Department of Education’s Believe to Achieve priorities.

Phillis Wheatley Community School is being honored based on the Department’s priority to provide the highest quality teaching and learning environment. The school’s multiple levels of literacy support have led to student gains.  

“We have a literacy crisis on our hands in Louisiana, and it takes bold actions like we’re seeing at Phillis Wheatley Community School to flip the trajectory for our children and our state,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Through the Louisiana Models of Excellence program, we have an avenue to recognize the exceptional work of our educators and connect them with teachers and leaders across the state looking for solutions to similar challenges.”

Part of Louisiana’s K-2 Literacy Coaching Pilot, Wheatley Community School is an active partner in the Department’s efforts to provide high-quality teaching and learning environments focused on early literacy. The school created dedicated time during the school day to deliver high-quality core instruction grounded in the foundations of reading. Educators proactively offer extra support based on specific student needs. Classroom libraries have been created to ensure all children have access to a variety of books as well as the opportunity to practice reading skills. 

Along with providing high-quality learning materials, the school has shifted lessons based on scientific research of how children learn to read. Educators have made literacy a focus across all content areas and professional meetings, and teachers benefit from targeted professional development.

“It is such an honor to be the first recipient of this award. We are seriously focused on literacy at Wheatley and across our network,” said FirstLine Schools Chief Executive Officer Sabrina Pence. “We are so appreciative of the resources that we have received from the state to improve literacy. It has helped lead to significant academic growth for our students.”

Dr. Brumley made the announcement during a “ruse” celebration event at the school Monday. Phillis Wheatley Community School faculty, staff and students were told the event was to celebrate a library grant. Dr. Brumley was joined by NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, FirstLine Schools CEO Sabrina Pence and leadership from NOLA Public Schools, FirstLine Schools and the Louisiana Department of Education. 

Phillis Wheatley Community School is a public charter school located in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. It is part of the FirstLine Schools network of schools. The school serves 830 students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.

Louisiana Models of Excellence was created to acknowledge, honor and spotlight schools serving as exemplary models for implementing the Department’s Believe to Achieve educational priorities that lead to the advancement of student success. This initiative has three main goals: celebrate excellence in Louisiana schools: share stories of success and provide models for others to see: create high-impact partnerships across school systems.

Louisiana’s Believe to Achieve educational priorities are to: ensure every student is on track to a professional career, college degree or service: remove barriers and create equitable, inclusive learning experiences for all children: provide the highest quality teaching and learning environment: develop and retain a diverse, highly-effective educator workforce: cultivate high-impact systems, structures and partnerships.

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