This August, after five years, Harriet Tubman Charter School was able to return to its fully renovated, historic school at 2013 General Meyer Ave. The long-awaited return brought bright smiles to staff and students as they explored the campus and admired the soaring windows and gleaming hardwood floors of the restored 100-year-old building. “This community deserves a great school,” said Principal Julie Lause “and these students deserve a positive and dignified learning environment where they can thrive.”
With the building complete, Tubman welcomed six hundred 3-8 grade students, including 200 new students. Expanding Tubman’s capacity is a key component of addressing the demand in the neighborhood for quality schools. The $20 million dollar project, paid for by the Recovery School District, included modifications that replaced all ventilation, reimagined classrooms, and added spaces for extracurricular activities. Exceptional technology, including smart boards, was added to classrooms and labs. A new kitchen serves as a location where meals are prepared and is a hands-on learning lab for students interested in culinary endeavors. Renovated space on the first floor made way for a new library and computer room. Renovated exterior buildings now house a band room and dedicated spaces for intervention classes, English Learners, and special education students. An outdoor courtyard in the middle of the building is surrounded on all sides and has picnic tables, shaded spots, and green grass. It has become a favorite gathering space.
A recent donation of materials and labor cultivated through NOLA Tree Project and local technology company iSeatz resulted in beautiful landscaping and the beginning of an outdoor living classroom where students will learn about lifecycles and horticulture. A chicken coop is in the long term plans, as well as finding support to design and build a fitness-recreation course. “It has been a journey to bring this school back to its original beauty but we are so proud to be serving the families of Algiers and feel so fortunate to have a great space to grow in together,” said Lause.
Tubman’s innovative K-1-2 program that combines Montessori principles with a standards-based approach to teaching has remained at the O. Perry Walker High School building, where the full school was housed during the renovations. Plans are underway to design a permanent learning space specifically for this program.