Natural w/ a CAUSE | “Your Child Is More Than A Test Score” – The Learning Laboratory New Orleans

May 12, 2015

“Your Child is More Than a Test Score”: Helping Kids Learn and Excel, the FUN & INNOVATIVE Way | The Learning Laboratory New Orleans

The Louisiana school system has been nothing less than OBSESSED with “teaching for the test” for years. State and national quotas have put teachers and students on an almost impossible schedule, forcing time limits and making it difficult for kids to become interested in studying to LEARN rather than pass a test.

Danielle Dreilinger of noted that “Performance scores matter more in New Orleans than in the rest of the state. All but six of the city’s public schools are charters, which may be shut down if they don’t meet the mark…Philosophically, both local and national analysts closely scrutinize the scores for evidence of whether the massive changes that followed Hurricane Katrina are paying off…The Common Core nationwide standards that Louisiana began using in 2013-14 lay out what students must learn each year in mathematics and English, and prompted a complete overhaul for many teachers. To offset potential negative consequences, Louisiana graded both students and schools on a curve.

The level of progress shown by most schools is on a sliding scale. As far as prepping for college, unfortunately, the results are the same. According to an article by, the majority of ACT scores are not high enough for most students to even QUALIFY for Louisiana colleges: “Most of the class of 2014 graduating from the 100%-charter New Orleans Recovery School District scored so low on the national ACT test that they didn’t meet the minimum requirements for Louisiana’s colleges… According to numbers crunched by Louisiana public school teacher and doctor of statistics Mercedes Schneider, just over 6 percent of high school seniors in the Recovery School District scored high enough in English and Math to qualify for admission into a Louisiana four-year college or university.

In my personal opinion, this is completely unacceptable, but who is to blame? The teachers? The school system? The parents? The students? From what I have learned about the current state of the education system, outside-of-school intervention is more than necessary. In an era like this, it is essential for kids to be mentally stimulated in an alternative way to get them interested in learning. For kids to do well in school, they need an environment that will get them interested in math and science, an out-of-the-box atmosphere. Children need a lot of encouragement. They need someone to tell them “yes, you can.” They also need someone to show them how to reach goals and teach them healthy ways to study. Luckily, there is a program dedicated to engaging kids in math and science, along with teaching the goal setting and how to reach those goals.

I have started volunteering for a program called The Learning Lab, which is a non-profit organization focused on engaging kids in learning experiences and activities they wouldn’t  normally participate in. The organization is prided as “non-traditional” and also “high quality, low cost.” It helps kids to learn through fun, “hands-on activities.” They implement field trips for broad spectrum learning. They offer Saturday and Summer programs. The program is mentally-challenging, for kids who lack it in a traditional school setting, and instills motivation to reach high goals. The students learn in a more modern, hands-on approach as opposed to sitting in one spot all day listening to lectures. The learning lab also aims to help teachers think outside of the box when teaching curriculums. It is a collective effort. They take note of new practices and try to stay in the loop.

The creator of this innovative idea is Tinashe Blanchet, who has over 10 years of teaching experience and is a certified teacher trainer. She is passionate about not only enriching young student minds but the minds of younger, and older, teachers as well. It is a great thing to have educators passionate about making learning an exciting experience rather than a drill.

They currently have two summer programs available: the Genius Camp, for kids 10-15, and the Summer Scholars Summer Camp for high school juniors and Seniors:

  • Genius Camp
    • a 4-week day camp that aids childrens’ interest for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects and works to improve grammar and writing skills.
    • They will be involved in many hands-on activities.
    • The camp will focus on the art of aviation, while also emcompassing daily physical activity, like swimming, and also including a day-trip to Pensacola to visit the Naval Aviation Museum.
    • It will be held June 1 to June 26
  • Summer Scholars Summer Camp  
    • a 2-week day camp that will focus on college admissions and scholarship applications.
    • It will focus on creating goal exploring and completion of those goals.
    • The students, or learners as the Lab calls them, will explore typical college and scholarship application questions and prepare answers for them.  I
    • t features college visits to local universities, Like Delgado, LSU, and Tulane.
    • They will also learn how to write a resume and a cover letter.
    • It will be held July 13 to July 24

To sign up for the Genius Camp and for more info, click here. Parents who pay prior to May 15, 2015 will have the registration fee waived.

To sign up for the Summer Scholars Summer Camp and for more info, click here LINK Parents who pay prior to July 1, 2015 will have the registration fee waived.

We must do whatever we can to help your our children succeed. Don’t let them fall behind. Uplift them to the front of the line.

By J'Nai

Born & raised in New Orleans. Natural hair and beauty enthusiast. Part-time mixologist. Future Medical Professional.

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