Below is a note from Rhonda Aluise, Executive Director of KIPP New Orleans, to her team and family, addressing the recent tragedies that have impacted the New Orleans community.
Dear New Orleans Team and Family,
We are all heartsick over the senseless deaths this week of Brandon Adams and Christine Marcelin of KIPP Believe. It comes at a time when we are still recovering as a community from the loss last month of KIPP Central City’s Ricky Summers and wondering how to address the rise in gun violence among the city’s children.
We took an important first step at healing with the peace vigil Tuesday night at KIPP Believe, where more than 500 members of our community came together to grieve and start the healing process.
The events of the past few months have put many of us under a great deal of stress. As Executive Director of KIPP New Orleans Schools, I wanted to share what we are doing to both support the members of our community and start thinking about solutions in the face of this violence.
First and foremost, we remain committed to supporting all of our students and families through this difficult time. We are in the midst of crisis response and intervention for all students at our affected schools. Moving into next week, we will identify our highest-risk students who are still in need of support so that we can assist them. Further, our school leaders and teachers will take time to continue reminding our students and their parents of important ways that they can remain safe and cautious.
We also have supports in place for our dedicated school staff. Please talk with your principal if you need any additional counseling and support. Additionally, we have invited an outside expert to spend several days with us next week. She will provide guidance to our school leaders and social workers as we work through how to best support our kids and each other.
We also want to give school communities the opportunity to talk about these events. On Thursday, May 10, campus and school leaders will discuss with their teams how we can work together to keep our kids as safe as possible both inside and outside of our schools.
While we know that we at KIPP cannot solve the challenge of violence in New Orleans on our own, we want to serve as a catalyst to spur city officials and other agencies to address these safety issues. As we develop our strategy over the coming weeks, we will be creating opportunities for all of you to identify, in a systematic way, the demands that we should be making on behalf of the children of this city. We believe KIPP can be a catalyst for change in New Orleans.
The events of the past few weeks have been a challenge. They also remind us of the importance of our mission and being a source of stability and love in the lives of our kids and their families. Our mission is two-fold. First, we aim to build a high performing network of schools that is preparing thousands of children for success in college and in life. Second, by doing so, we hope to inspire other educators across the city as they seek to build great schools to provide these same opportunities. Thank you for all you do to help our kids build a better tomorrow for themselves and us all.
Finally, on a deeply personal note, I could not be prouder and more inspired by each and every one of you than I am at this moment. I have watched you lead, teach and support each other in ways that most people are never called to do in a lifetime. You—students and families, teachers, staff members, school and regional leaders—our beloved KIPP New Orleans team and family are why I know that New Orleans will be a different and better place.
KIPP New Orleans Public Schools
KIPP New Orleans is offering support to Brandon and Christine’s families during this time. If you would like to contribute to their fund, please send checks to:
KIPP New Orleans Schools
ATTN: Mike Dunn
3820 St. Claude Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70117
Please write One Love in the memo line.