Established in 2010, Crescent City Schools was founded on the belief that all students deserve great schools. Crescent City Schools is a Charter Management Organization (CMO) created by two veteran educators, Kate Mehok and Julie Lause, in order to address the specific need of transforming failing schools. Crescent City Schools fosters the performance and improvement of its schools by providing the support structure necessary for success. Our organization implements best practices for teaching and learning to create a model that transforms the lowest-performing schools into excellent educational institutions.
Crescent City Schools currently serves more than 2,200 students in three schools across New Orleans: Harriet Tubman Charter School (PreK-8) in Algiers, Akili Academy (PreK-8) in the Upper Ninth Ward, and Paul Habans Charter School (PreK-8) in Algiers.
When Crescent City Schools assumed operations of Harriet Tubman Charter School in 2011, Tubman was a persistently-failing school, ranking 45th in the Recovery School District (RSD). Tubman has steadily raised student achievement and, in its fourth year, moved from 27th to 5th in the K-8 school rankings for the RSD. In 2015, Tubman became the highest-ranking RSD school on the West Bank, and its SPS improved by more than 18 points, demonstrating the second strongest growth for any K-8 school in the RSD. In 2016, the percentage of Tubman scholars performing at Basic or above in ELA increased to 63%, while the percentage of students performing at Mastery or above in Math increased to 33%. In 2017, 83% of eighth grade students performed at Basic or Above in ELA and nearly 70% of the same eighth graders enrolled in high-performing high schools. Tubman’s combined-grade K-1-2 program is unique in the city: each homeroom community stays with their teacher and peers for three years and K-1-2 students are instructed in mostly small groups, with a focus on independence, deep practice of skills, and academic focus. Intervention for academically struggling students and enrichment programs are also a part of the high-quality experience Tubman provides for every child. Rewarded with a six-year renewal from the Louisiana Department of Education in 2015, Tubman plans to keep raising academic achievement and become a model of successful school turnaround for schools around the country. Tubman currently serves 620 students in grades PreK-8. Harriet Tubman is led by the CCS co-founder Julie Lause, who has spent 20 years educating the students of New Orleans.
Akili Academy began operations in August 2008, initially serving students in kindergarten and first grade. In Akili’s first year of operations, only 6% of students were at grade level at the start of the school year. At the end of the first year of instruction, 85% of kindergarteners were at or above grade level, and 77% of first grade students were at or above grade level. Between 2014 and 2016, Akili increased the percentage of students reading on grade level by 15 percentage points, from 44% of students reading on grade level to 58%. In 2017, Akili eighth graders outperformed the state in the percentage of students performing at Basic or Above as well as the percentage of students performing at Mastery or Above. Akili has implemented a personalized learning program since 2014, which has allowed staff to better support and challenge scholars. By using a combination of whole group instruction, personalized learning software, and small groups, Akili staff is able to meet each student where they are and ensure that they are on the path to college. Akili believes that students who are prepared to succeed in college display a passion for learning and have found academic and extracurricular pursuits that are personally gratifying. Consequently, Akili offers students a wide range of performing and fine arts classes, writing workshops, athletic endeavors, and leadership training.Since joining the Crescent City Schools network in 2012, Akili has expanded to serve students in grades PreK-8 and has more than doubled its student population, from 240 to more than 600. Akili’s location has also changed: originally housed in modular trailers in Gentilly, Akili relocated to its permanent campus at the historic William Frantz Building, located in the Upper Ninth Ward, in 2013. Akili is led by native New Orleanian, Allison Lowe.
The third addition to the Crescent City Schools network, Paul Habans Charter School welcomed its first students in August 2013. By the end of the school’s first year, Habans sixth grade students, the oldest cohort in the school, grew their reading level by 1.37 years. In 2016, LEAP scores revealed that Habans improved more than the state average, both in the percent of students scoring Mastery or above as well as the percent of students scoring Basic or above. Overall, the percentage of students scoring Mastery or above increased from 9.87% in 2015 to 14.67% in 2016. Additionally, 2016 results revealed that Habans increased its School Performance Score (SPS) by nearly 14 points over the previous year. As a result of these achievements, Habans exited failing status after only three years under the operation of Crescent City Schools. Habans continued its positive academic trajectory in 2017. Grades 3-7 all demonstrated positive academic growth from 2016 to 2017 in ELA. In 2014, only 30% of fourth grader students performed at Basic or Above in ELA; in 2017, 62% of fourth grade students performed at Basic or Above, reflecting an increase of more than 30 percentage points. Habans promoted its first eighth grade class in May 2016 and relocated to its permanent, state-of-the-art campus in Algiers in June 2016. Habans’s new campus includes a dance studio, art room, gym, science lab, library, and computer labs. Since Crescent City Schools assumed operations of Habans in 2013, the student population has nearly doubled to serve more than 650 students in grades PreK-8. Habans is led by Elisabeth LaMotte-Mitchell.