CCS is proud to welcome Raquel Kraushar as the new principal of Tubman Montessori. A veteran teacher who has worked at CCS for 7 years, Raquel is very focused on literacy for this school year. CCS is very excited to have her as the principal of Montessori, and we’re looking forward to an amazing school year.
Can you tell me about your experience? How long have you been at CCS and what roles have you held?
I joined Teach for America as a 2012 corps member and was placed at Harriet Tubman Charter School, which at the time was K-8. I worked there for 3 years, left briefly, and then came back in 2018 to stay.
When I came back, it was just kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade in a building, and I was a teacher in a K-1-2 room. Then we added Pre-K, and I became the Director of English Language Arts (ELA) and started coaching teachers in 2019. I was teaching for one half of the day and coaching for the other half.
What was your reaction when you were asked to be the principal?
I was very honored. The principal before me did amazing things, so I was very honored and humbled to be chosen for this position.
Are the students excited to see you in this new role?
Yeah! Some of them heard about it over the summer because their parents told them, and some are just finding out now, so they’re very surprised and excited. They see me in the hall and say, “Wait, you’re the principal?” Many of them are my former students, so it’s very sweet.
Did you ever imagine yourself in this role when you started teaching?
I always knew I would teach for a while, but when I started coaching I really enjoyed it and realized my impact could be a lot wider, which made me realize I wanted to stay in education. I’m very passionate about literacy and want to share that passion with others. After I started coaching I got the itch to stay in leadership and stay involved coaching other adults.
What are you most looking forward to about this school year?
I’m hoping we can have a normal school year with no hurricanes and no COVID quarantines. We’ve had a lot of disruptions in the last couple of years, and we’re really working with students on growth and literacy. If we have fewer disruptions, that will help us a lot.
A lot of people are concerned about learning loss due to COVID; how do you hope to combat that?
COVID definitely affected everyone in the country but deeply impacted our students here in New Orleans, many of who struggle with issues related to poverty. Over the last several years, our students missed a lot of instructional time, so they need our support even more this year. We know where we are, we know where we want to go, we have all the pieces, and it’s just a matter of putting it all together.
How does it feel to be a principal with all the students in the school rather than hybrid learning?
It feels great. A full building feels much better than a half-quarantined building. We have great enrollment numbers. We’re higher than we have ever been, and it feels like how a school should feel.
What is your vision for this school year?
“Literacy is freedom” is the slogan for this year. We want to get 70% of students to score strategic or above on the DIBELS assessment, which means that they can read on grade level. If our kids can’t read on grade level, we’re not setting them up to lead full lives. It’s the most important thing to my staff and me. As teachers, it’s really easy to focus on a lot of things, but I think focusing on this one goal will lead us to success.
What are you most excited about in this new role?
I feel good about being the person who’s making decisions. Because everyone is invested in the literacy goal, I think I can limit the noise and focus our attention on the goal. I think we have an amazing staff who want the best for all of our kids. That’s what gets me to work every day, our kids, and knowing I’m working with people who care as much as I do about their success.
What do you want your legacy to be at CCS 5 years from now?
I would love it if my legacy was really aligned to literacy. I told my staff I want our school to be the school where people say, “Wow, all their kids are reading. What are they doing at that school to make that happen?”
What does being a principal at CCS mean to you?
For me, the principal is an example of what we want all staff to be, someone who lives our values. When I’m talking to staff and parents and making decisions, I want to make sure that I’m living our values of Unity, Courage, Excellence, and Responsibility. A principal upholds the values, leads the charge, and helps students do their best work.
Anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming events?
I’m very excited about having more families in the building this year.. We’re going to have Family Fridays in the play yard where families will get to come in and play with their children and have breakfast. We’re also bringing back Rally where every other week, we’ll have an assembly in the gym. I’m going to tie it to reading, what we’re learning in school and our values. These new additions are going to be really awesome and engage our families.