Life in GNO - Louisiana Delta

Making a Home Here

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Corps members share personal stories about moving to Greater New Orleans to make a new home.

A group of young students posing in the classroom with their teacher.
As Dwight A. Helton, Jr., begins his second year of teaching 3rd grade in Greater New Orleans, he looks back on the road he's traveled to find his calling.
A mural showing tall buildings in New York city with students' names.
Sophie Unterman returns to the city she fell in love with as an undergrad.

Neighborhood Tour

neighborhood-tour

It's no surprise that corps members and alumni fall in love with the Greater New Orleans and Louisiana Delta communities. Those who grew up here share a deep connection with their students. Each community offers unique opportunities that you won't find anywhere else in the country.

  • Greater New Orleans
  • Louisiana Delta
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Unique in every way, New Orleans is a city full of interesting neighborhoods, many of which change in character from one block to the next. The large area known as Uptown includes several of New Orleans' most historic and storied locales, like the Garden District and Audubon Park. Mid-City boasts beautiful City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Fairgrounds racetrack, home of the world famous Jazz and Heritage Festival. Both Uptown and Mid-City, as well as the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, are home to many corps members and alumni.

From sampling the city's famous cuisine at countless restaurants, to hearing live music on Oak or Frenchmen Street, to shopping on Magazine Street or dining in the newly revitalized Freret Street neighborhood, there's never a shortage of things to do in New Orleans outside the classroom. Even lesson planning can be done in a beautiful, unique setting like the Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center, which was recently rebuilt and reopened. A fantastic addition to the Broadmoor neighborhood, this library has a cafe and hosts a variety of weekly programs, including ESL tutoring, computer classes, knitting circles, and cooking classes.  

Explore neighborhoods in New Orleans.

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The Louisiana Delta is home to some of the most fertile soil in the world and an equally rich history, including the origin of the Teddy Bear, birthplace of Delta Airlines, and home to CJ Walker, the first African American female millionaire. It could also be argued today that it is also home to some of the nicest and most hospitable people in our country—people who wave to most anyone they see, welcome you into their homes, and have even been known to drive 10 miles out of town to deliver you a good meal. However, while there are many great and truly special things about this rural place, it is also home to some of the highest levels of poverty and lowest school performance scores in the country. Roughly half of the children in Madison, Tensas, and Concordia Parishes grow up in poverty. Average ACT scores of 15-18, versus a national average and college-ready bar of 21, indicate far too many students are well below the college-ready mark when they leave high school. This is particularly problematic because until last year, when the ACT became a required component of high school graduation, that average only represented the top students’ scores, as they were the ones typically encouraged to take it. Ultimately, this means that today only 1 in 10 adults across the region have a college degree, and only 1 in 20 African American adults. Further, only 2 in 3 adults have a high school diploma or GED, severely limiting their access to opportunities to achieve their dreams in life.  
 
Since 2010, our corps in the Louisiana Delta has grown from 10 teachers in one town and district to 36 teachers in five towns and three districts. While we still have a long way to go, we are already seeing our teachers becoming part of and working alongside the community to ensure our students have the same opportunities as those in other parts of the country. Inside our school walls, our corps members and other school leaders are working to ensure our kids are no longer unprepared for college by creating environments centered on rigorous content and a positive culture that will allow our students to prove what they’re capable of to anyone that doubts them. In addition to the hard work that goes into their classrooms daily, it’s common to see our corps members outside of the classroom, participating in extracurricular activities and after school tutoring, staffing ticket booths and coaching sports teams, helping with floats during community events, and running soccer leagues and dance clinics. The possibilities to impact our kids and communities while growing your own leadership are endless. It’s clear that people in the community – from parents to superintendents to mayors to corps members—want to make the Louisiana Delta a place where kids can achieve any dream they have in life, and schools that are rigorous and loving places for students to grow is critical to making this a reality. 

Fall in Love With New Orleans

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Denali Lander
Greater New Orleans–Louisiana Delta 2009
The generosity of the people of New Orleans and the depth of its history and culture, combined with the innovation that's so alive—especially in the realm of education—make this the most beautiful place to live.
Max Oberlander
Greater New Orleans–Louisiana Delta 2015
Imagine getting to spend weekends on Frenchmen Street or the Garden District. Imagine getting to eat fried-catfish at 10:00 p.m. and a beignet at midnight. Very few are able to claim they regularly attend the oldest pub in the nation or get to listen to Jazz in its birthplace.
Jeremy Guyton
Greater New Orleans–Louisiana Delta 2012
There are so many reasons why I love living in New Orleans. From festival season to walks alongside the Mississippi, the list goes on and on. Above anything, I have developed deep relationships with co-workers, corps members, and friends that have greatly influenced my professional and personal development.
Jasmine Fluker
Greater New Orleans–Louisiana Delta 2013
Being immersed in New Orleans culture has completely changed my life. Being around such strong, resilient, and caring people daily has made me want to be a better person for my community. There are so many beautiful things to enjoy about the culture here. With second-line parades, Mardi Gras, and the overall nature of having a good time there is never a dull moment.

Fall in Love With Louisiana Delta

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Drew Mestelske
Greater New Orleans–Louisiana Delta 2015
I love how it's hard to be a stranger in the Delta. I remember driving down to Louisiana from Cleveland and worrying about being a new outsider in the community. That fear evaporated quickly when a fellow teacher brought over dinner during the first week I was in town. From that start, I knew I was not alone in this work.
Megan Preis
Greater New Orleans–Louisiana Delta 2015
My favorite thing about our region has to be the students. My students are some of the most positive individuals I have ever met, and getting the chance to learn with them every day is a privilege…I don’t usually say things like this, but my students give me hope of a better future. I couldn’t imagine working with anyone else.