Photo: Harlin Miller
4.0’s Launch program supports entrepreneurs to bring new ventures—products, services, or school models—to life in under 60 days.
Kim Gibson moved to New Orleans almost eight years ago and worked as a selector for TeachNOLA for five years. Prior to that she taught high needs early education students in Austin, Texas and did community development with low income neighborhoods as well as teaching Spanish in St. Louis, Missouri. But it’s been her experiences as a parent of four children, who have been a part of four different New Orleans charter schools that inspired her to start NOLA Micro Schools as part of Launch Cohort 10.
She knew all of her children learned differently and not all of their educational needs were being met. So, she sought a smaller classroom environment. Gibson said as a micro school, once they reach full capacity K-12, it will have fewer than 150 students. NOLA Micro Schools believe that being small enables them to be nimble and therefore have better access to local professionals creating a “porous wall” relationship with this amazing city. They envision porous walls providing a school with local experts coming in to classrooms teaching their area of expertise and having students go out to have hands-on experience.
The idea of NOLA Micro Schools came about after a few years of watching one of my kids in particular struggle to find her passion regarding learning. As a parent I have been constantly trying to stay up to date on what options are available for the students in our city regarding schools. After having a discussion with Matt Candler about Acton Academy in Austin, I spent a lot of time looking into their vision and mission that focuses on student-driven learning. The results they are having are incredibly positive and led me to look more into the idea of small (micro) schools who pay careful attention to the best use of their resources including staffing in order to provide the most strategic learning for their students.
Timing was a big part of Launch for me. I met part of our team, Oskie Creech, just prior to the Launch application deadline, and we figured why not at least apply and see what happens. I knew Launch would provide the support, community, insight and challenges that we would need to move us forward, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be apart of this program. It has allowed me to meet some incredible people, to be a part of a cohort that was full of fun talented people, and encouraged me to pursue my passions full-force.
Being a parent is what brings my views on education home. I know all kids do not learn the same way, because I see that in my household in how different each of my children are. Being a parent is what inspires me to move forward with our school to provide more opportunities for other children as well as my own. Being a parent has also allowed me to empathize as best as I can with other parents, and to continually remind me of why we are doing this. Being a parent has also enabled me to get to know many kids around this city and see how they are uniquely gifted to change the world.
My biggest challenge now is continuing to spread the word about our school and finding all of the families that will make up our first year’s enrollment. I am very excited to see how the community of NOLA Micro Schools develops and getting to know the remarkable children that will be our first students!
Find out more about NOLA Micro Schools at nolamicroschools.org
L. Kasimu Harris is a New Orleans correspondent for 4.0 Schools. He is a NOLA native, Ole Miss alum, and also covers style at ParishChic. Read more of his work here.