Bricolage Annual Report 2019

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to Move

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Dear Bricolage Community, I am so proud to share our 2019 Annual Report. The 2018-2019 school year was Bricolage’s sixth, and it was filled with many important milestones and special moments. The story of the 2018-2019 year is one of thoughtful reflection, intentional growth, and celebrated transition. In August, our staff opened the school doors at the historic John McDonogh High School building for the first time. In September, we launched our middle school and welcomed our first class of pre-kindergarten students. During the school year, we celebrated the opening of our new gymnasium, performed in our new auditorium, and erected our school’s first playground. Meanwhile, Bricolage students, staff and leadership continued to reflect, to learn, and to grow as individuals and as a school community. Bricolage is a community unlike any other in our city. We are committed to creating a community where people from a variety of backgrounds can feel a sense of belonging and become innovators who can change the world. Like great innovators through time, we build upon the lessons of the past to make a better future. The title of this year’s annual report is Looking Back to Move Forward. This school year, all of us did just that—we reflected deeply on the establishment of our very special place and the progress we have made thus far. And through this reflection, we discovered important opportunities for growth and improvement, which we are excited to share with you in this report. We are thrilled to take a moment to look back on the 2018–2019 school year, celebrating what makes our school unique and promises a bright future for Bricolage, for its students, families and our larger community. As you learn about Bricolage in our 2019 Annual Report, I invite you to reflect on how we might move forward together to build a more creative, equitable and innovative future. On a personal note, this is the last time I will be sharing an annual report with the Bricolage community as its CEO. Working in service of the Bricolage mission and community and has been the greatest honor of my professional life. I am grateful for the relationships we have built, and the hope our community inspires. Thank you for the faith you have had in me and in all members of this beloved community.

With gratitude,

Josh Densen CEO & Founder 1



The 2018–2019 school year marked a significant and exciting milestone for Bricolage: the launch of our middle school. Eighty-four Bricolage students pioneered our first fifth grade class, transitioning our school community from a fully-enrolled elementary school to a growing elementary/ middle school campus. For our students, middle school marks a subtle yet critical transition: from mastery of core content area skills to applying those skills in more complex ways across the curricula; from learning about who they are, to explicitly leveraging who they are to drive change in our community. The launch of our middle school also provided Bricolage the important opportunity to reflect on who we are, where we started, and where we want to go. Through this process, we confirmed with

An important part of our transition into the John McDonogh High School facility was the opportunity to develop strong relationships with the John McDonogh High School alumni community. We have shared important moments with alumni, including joining John McDonogh’s annual alumni picnic and partnering to host a celebratory second line down Esplanade Avenue to commemorate our move from Bricolage's previous location to John McDonogh High School.

conviction the elements that make us who we are, and we uncovered unexpected opportunities to drive continued improvement across both our elementary and middle school programs. In this year’s report, we are especially excited to share foundational elements of our middle school that we piloted during the 2018–2019 school year and that will be rolled out campus-wide during the 2019–2020 school year. 2018–2019 also marked our first full year in our newly-renovated, stateof-the-art building, the historic John McDonogh High School building. Our new home has science labs, a library, art studios, a band/music room, a gymnasium and a maker space. It has afforded students and staff with incredible spaces and opportunities for learning, collaboration and play. We invite you to visit us at our new campus and see the space that has quickly become our home.

As our relationship developed, members of the alumni community shared how meaningful it would be for Bricolage to adopt the Trojan mascot and John McDonogh's school colors (green and gold). Bricolage and the John McDonogh alumni communities worked together to create a visual representation of the mascot that combines the building’s past and its future. Bricolage’s new logo was born: a Trojan that is itself a bricolage.

The Bricolage Trojans now compete proudly in athletics against public charter and independent schools from across New Orleans in basketball, flag football and volleyball. Every Friday, you can expect to see Bricolage students and staff donning green and gold Trojan gear in celebration of Trojan Pride Friday.






Native American








African American





economically disadvantaged



students with exceptionalities


B Letter Grade for 2018–2019

Bricolage showed the largest increase in both English Language Arts and Math LEAP assessments from 2018–2019, increasing by 11 points in English Language Arts and 16 points in Math.


10 :1 Pre-K

14 :1 ​Kindergarten

27 :1

29 :1

First and Second Grade

Third through Fifth Grade 5


Seek Diversity to Achieve Equity

At Bricolage, our purpose is to do what no other school in New Orleans has done before: achieve equitable outcomes for all of our students. Despite local and national progress in improving outcomes for historically underserved students, true equity across racial, ethnic and socio-economic lines of difference remains elusive. Bricolage is recognized as a pioneer among diverse-by-design schools nationally. In the spirit of this pioneering work, we are in a constant state of learning and reflection. However, as we grow and evolve, we recognize two foundational elements that are constants in our endeavor to achieve equitable outcomes: CULTIVATING DIVERSITY Bricolage was founded on the principle that ensuring equally high outcomes for all students requires students of all backgrounds to be educated together. And we know that by 2043–when our current students are mid-career professionals–America will not have an ethnic majority and our economy will rely on jobs we cannot yet predict. The ability to engage in new ways of thinking and to collaborate across lines of difference will be essential for our graduates’ success. The diversity of Bricolage’s school community continues to reflect the rich diversity of our city: students hail from almost all of the city’s zip codes and many cultural heritages. In 2018-2019, slightly more than half of Bricolage students (55 percent) identified as people of color and 45 percent identified as white; 43 percent of students were female, 57 percent were male; and 50 percent of students were economically disadvantaged. By 2019–2020, 50 percent of Bricolage staff members will identify as people of color. Students and staff celebrate their identities, explore their identities in relationship to others, and practice creative problem solving alongside peers with different backgrounds and perspectives.

Bricolage continues to be an open enrollment school with no admissions criteria. Over time, citywide demand for Bricolage has grown, and in response, we instituted mechanisms to preserve the diversity we envision. Today, Bricolage implements a permanent admissions preference for economically disadvantaged students through the OneApp citywide lottery system, which will help secure socioeconomic diversity for years to come. DEVELOPING CHANGEMAKERS We are developing students who are empathetic, independent thinkers, who embrace opportunities to solve problems without fear of failure, and who are empowered to take risks and advocate for causes they believe in. Our approach to strengthening students’ character is multi-faceted, from the way we structure our school day beginning with small, inclusive advisories; to teachers connecting lessons to real-world, communitybased challenges that engage students’ interests; to robust socialemotional learning programs and partners housed within our space.

Social-emotional learning spans far beyond supplementary programs: it is who we are, and how we teach. Bricolage students make important connections between the personal skills they are developing, such as risk-taking, self empowerment, and agency, and the challenges faced by their community and the world around them. Changemaking—or the courage and capacity to advocate for the things we believe in—emerged this year as a powerful ethos in our school. It has become a concept that is actively incorporated into core content lessons, co-curricular classes, and daily student life.

We are developing students who are empathetic, independent thinkers, who embrace opportunities to solve problems without fear of failure, and who are empowered to take risks and advocate for causes they believe in. 7

Looking Back to Move Forward


Each year, we learn more about who we are and how we can best serve our school community. In 2017, after our first year administering Louisiana state assessments, Bricolage earned the distinction of the highest performing open enrollment school in the city of New Orleans. We were proud of and humbled by our early results: every Bricolage student subgroup outperformed their peers statewide, and historically low-performing subgroups outperformed 70-75% of all K-8 schools in New Orleans. Our early results were also an opportunity for us to acknowledge that we were not yet fulfilling our purpose. While we celebrated our accomplishments, we still saw a disparity in academic achievement broken down across background and socio-economic status, and we were not on track to close those performance gaps by the time our students graduated high school. There was still much work to do to achieve our vision for equity and student success. As part of our endeavor to eliminate these gaps during the 2018–2019 school year, Bricolage convened a staff Curriculum Committee that researched curricula, visited high performing schools, worked closely with local partners like New Schools for New Orleans, and

rigorously analyzed student data. Simultaneously, launching our middle school provided rich opportunities to learn through piloting instructional and curricular initiatives. Early results were promising: fifth grade students demonstrated higher academic gains than any other grade level in the building during the last school year. In this report, we are excited to share updates to our schoolwide instructional model implemented in direct response to last school year’s middle school pilot programs, including: • Implementing Tier 1 curricula across all subjects and grade levels • Organizing and investing in instructional leadership capacity in new and different ways • Implementing an integrated studies approach in upper grades with Humanities (English Language Arts and Social Studies) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes daily; and, • Orienting students’ academic experience by providing space throughout our curriculum for students to recognize and work to solve real world problems that affect their community.

Over the last two years, as the school has transitioned out of start up, we have invested substantially in understanding: what are our students learning? How is each of our students performing? Where are they academically strong, and where are they struggling? 9


2018–2019 also marked our first full year in our newly-renovated, state-of-the-art building, the historic John McDonogh High School building. Our new home has science labs, a library, art studios, a band/music room, a gymnasium and a maker space. 11


Aligning Curricula toAmplify Achievement

In 2019–2020, Bricolage will adopt Tier 1 curricula across all subjects and grade levels. Tier 1 curricula are closely aligned to Louisiana state standards and are rated superior in quality by the Louisiana Department of Education. Our students’ academic strengths and needs are as diverse as their backgrounds, and our academic model engages each child at his or her ability level. ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS AND LITERACY Bricolage students are voracious readers. Visitors may see them reading in the morning carpool line, during recess, and in the cafeteria. During the 2018–2019 school year, however, data showed that our students required additional support to effectively ‘read to learn’ and write from a text—two concepts that will be essential to their success through middle and upper grades. Younger students also demonstrated phonics deficiencies which pointed to gaps in our previous ELA curricula. To target these and other literacy challenges our curriculum committee took time to identify more rigourous English Language Arts curricula. Beginning in the 2019–2020 school year, Bricolage will implement American Reading Company’s Foundational Skills Toolkit (grades K-1) and Wit and Wisdom (grades 2-6). American Reading Company’s Foundational Skills Toolkit promotes educational equity with leveled libraries and embedded differentiated support, and students engage in intellectual discourse around text and focus standards. Wit and Wisdom uses authentic texts to help students master essential reading, writing, language, speaking, listening and vocabulary. Benchmark assessments administered in fall 2019 indicate that both curricular shifts are already effectively targeting skills deficits early in the school year. MATHEMATICS Beginning in the 2018–2019 school year, Bricolage implemented the

full suite of Bridges in Mathematics across grades kindergarten through five. Bridges is closely aligned with Bricolage’s approach to encouraging creative problem-solving. Bridges uses visual models to help students construct, understand and apply mathematical concepts and ideas. We also selected Illustrative Math as our 6-8 grade mathematics curriculum, another Tier 1 curriculum which will be rolled out during the 20192020 school year. Illustrative Math includes a particular emphasis on applying mathematical concepts, and students have many opportunities to make connections between contexts and the concepts they are learning. Both programs foster deep understanding of mathematical concepts and support students to solve complex problems. Through the programs fifth grade students saw particularly strong gains in mathematics during the 2018– 2019 school year, and we are encouraged that these results will continue to improve as we scaffold these curricula. SCIENCE Despite the freedom Bricolage students have historically been given to investigate and explore— primarily through Innovator’s Workshop—students’ science achievement over the past two years indicated that they required a richer foundation in science instruction. During the 2018-2019 school year, Bricolage piloted Amplify Science in the fifth grade, combined with mathematics into a daily STEM block. Amplify blends hands-on

investigations, literacy-rich activities, and interactive digital tools to empower students to think, read, write, and argue like real scientists and engineers. Not only is Amplify strongly aligned with our vision and instructional strategies for developing problem-solvers, early results are encouraging. We are thrilled to scale the Amplify curriculum to all grades K-6 in 2019–2020. FOREIGN LANGUAGE The 2018–2019 school year marked the first time Bricolage offered foreign language instruction. By all accounts—especially students’— Spanish with Bricolage’s very own ‘La Maestra Loca’ is an incredible asset to our school community. During the 2018-2019 school year, La Maestra Loca taught third through fifth grade Spanish using a technique called Comprehensible Input. The basis of this approach is that language input can be understood by listeners despite them not understanding all the words and structures in it. Students do all of this speaking in Spanish, because you cannot learn Spanish by speaking about it in English. La Maestra Loca uses an immersive approach to teaching language— her students use Spanish almost exclusively. They have conversations about dinosaurs, dragons, Disney characters and Fortnite. Students make up stories and then act them out. They watch Youtube videos and talk about them. They listen to popular Spanish music and discuss the lyrics. Through this method students acquire grammar naturally just like when they learned their first language at home. Beginning in 2019-2020, all fourth, fifth and sixth grade students will receive Spanish instruction daily. Over time, we will expand our foreign language offerings to more grades and additional languages, building off of the solid foundation La Maestra Loca has already established. 13

Investing in People to Elevate Practice 14

Rolling out new curricula across grades and subject levels is a significant undertaking—one that we have planned and prepared for meticulously. The most important element of implementing new curricula successfully is the initial and ongoing training and support we provide our teachers. We also recognize the broader citywide challenge of retaining and developing top talent: according to New Schools for New Orleans, 29% of public school teachers in New Orleans leave the classroom annually. Over the past year Bricolage has invested significantly in talent development and we are excited to share recent talent initiatives: INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP The most significant change to our staff structure over the past year was promoting founding middle school principal Antigua Wilbern to principal and instructional leader of our entire elementary/middle campus. Launching our middle school, Ms. Wilbern was one of 25 leaders nationwide to develop an innovative school model through New Schools Venture Fund’s Invent Cohort. Since joining Bricolage’s team in 2017, Ms. Wilbern has brought exceptional instructional leadership capacity to the organization, leading our work in curriculum development, pedagogy, and teacher coaching. Ms. Wilbern has developed strong relationships with staff and families, and has truly pushed our work to the next level. She believes deeply that academic excellence and a positive, joyful school culture are not in competition with one another, and commits herself to providing both for students—all within a community that cultivates a strong sense of belonging. We are thrilled to see her work yield stunning results in the years to come.

STAFF STRUCTURE Launching seven years ago with three kindergarten classrooms and growing incrementally each year, Bricolage thrived through start-up with a lean instructional leadership team. During our middle school launch, we piloted new staffing structures and coaching models and quickly recognized their potential impact on instructional effectiveness and staff culture. In 2018-2019, we created a new, essential position among middle school staff: Directors of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. In the 2019-2020 school year, four DCIA’s spanning across all grade levels and subjects will lead the implementation of Tier 1 curricula and provide daily teacher coaching. Every Bricolage staff member will have a dedicated coach by fall 2019. Coaches will engage in goal setting with all teachers, track progress against goals and identify ongoing content or instructional professional development needs, regularly observing instruction and providing feedback. As one coach recently reflected, “There is a renewed emphasis on personalized professional development for teachers and staff. The coaching team is working to meet the career development wants and needs of each individual teacher. It is common that teachers come to Bricolage looking to grow as professionals. We are responding to that by providing meaningful support and feedback for their career paths. This has helped us develop strong and trusting relationships with teachers and staff, and to work in partnership to achieve our common goals.” PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT In addition to our robust in-house coaching model, over the past year we have invested significantly in teacher and leader professional development. All Bricolage instructional coaches attend a national Standards Institute to ensure ongoing alignment between what we are teaching and what the state expects students to know and do. ELA and math teachers participate in citywide “curriculum hubs”—led by New Schools for New Orleans—for both Wit and Wisdom and Illustrative Math curricula. Through these convenings, teachers receive ongoing training in the curricula and join quarterly meetings to collaborate with and learn from peers across the city who are implementing similar programs.


Nurturing Creativity to Inspire Change Bricolage students create. They create stories, machines, robots, films, music, art. Bricolage students explore their identities: they learn about their cultural heritage, their personal strengths, biases, and their identity in relationship to others. Our co-curricular programming is the platform that allows these distinct and critical elements of our school community to come to life—the experiences, spaces and conversations that are curated to help students feel safe and known, and from there, embrace the freedom to create without fear of failure. Our co-curricular blocks are a special time for students to collaborate with their peers, learn about and experience new tools, and have fun. During the 2018–2019 school year, in particular, we emphasized the creation of joyful spaces for students.

all Bricolage students take Workshop, and middle school students have the opportunity to participate in an advanced ‘master class.’ Our newly renovated, state-of-the-art facility includes two Innovator’s Workshop classrooms, one with ageappropriate building materials for students in lower elementary, and one equipped with more sophisticated equipment for our older students. Both workshops teach students the art of designing for a user and allow students to practice creating, collaborating, soliciting feedback and iterating.

Additionally over the past year, and especially through the launch of our middle school and its central premise of changemaking, our cocurricular programs have become the mechanism through which Bricolage students create with purpose. Co-curriculars empower students as change agents, focusing on the process of social change and making connections to inspire future change. All Bricolage students experience all co-curricular offerings, which include Innovator’s Workshop, art, music, library and physical education.

Workshop begins in pre-kindergarten, when students build vocabulary, learn to use tools properly, develop problem solving skills and reflect on their process and product. When our school’s playground was being designed, students designed a prototype of their ideal playground and submitted it to the Kaboom! playground committee for consideration.

INNOVATOR'S WORKSHOP During the 2018–2019 school year, students continued to explore the art of design in Innovator’s Workshop 16

In upper grades, students apply more complex tools to more complex problems. Fifth graders spent a week designing arcade games for kindergarten students. They looked at examples, drafted a “user profile,” sketched out a plan, and then prototyped their games out of

cardboard and recycled materials. Fifth grade students then invited Kindergarten students to a final arcade where they tested and played all the games. Additionally this year, middle school students created short films to advocate for causes that had personal meaning to them, such as equity for girls in sports, anti-bullying and embracing individuality. ART AS AN EXTENSION OF THE CLASSROOM In art class, students study the power of art and practice creating with a purpose. For a recent art project, students visited The Green Project, a local non-profit dedicated to promoting a culture of creative reuse by diverting usable materials from landfills, and selected up-cycled materials from which to create their art. Through this process, students connected their work to a recent science lesson about preservation, and created for the greater good. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT During the 2018-2019 school year we rolled out additional opportunities for students to explore and develop themselves as leaders. Two key partnerships included Live Oak Wilderness Camps and High Resolves, highly regarded local and international character and leadership development initiatives.

Both programs supported the development of foundational leadership and citizenship skills among our fourth and fifth grade students. Through our partnership with Live Oak, a cohort of fourth grade students met monthly to develop their leadership skills, engaged in play-based skill building throughout the year, and participated in the organization’s rural summer camp experience with students from across the city. High Resolves brought

All Bricolage students experience all co-curricular offerings, which include Innovator’s Workshop, art, music, library and physical education. depth to our ongoing conversations with students about topics that are particularly difficult to navigate, especially as a middle schooler. Students were supported to have

conversations about race, equity, gender and culture in an intentional and productive manner—an ever more important skill in the world they will inherit. 17

ADVANCING EQUITY BY CREATING INNOVATORS Our community makes our mission achievable. Thank you to the Bricolage community and our partners near and far for your commitment to and investment in our mission of advancing educational equity by creating innovators. CORPORATE AND ORGANIZATION GIVING Amazon Smile American Rigger's Supply Arline Skate Center Aurora United Methodist Church Ben Brown Law Group, LLC Box Tops for Education Bricolage Community Association Bricolage Dad's Club Bricolage Mom's Club Bricolage Parent Playground Campaign CocaCola Give Community Coffee Company Deta C. Robb, LLC Fishman Haygood, LLP Goldman Sachs Matching Program Good Done Great IBERIABANK IBM International Foundation John McDonogh Class of 1964 Jones, Swanson, Huddell and Garrison, LLC Laser Tag of Metairie Louisiana Roots, LLC MoPho Group, LLC Network for Good Northwestern Mutual Foundation Peeky Design, LLC Primary Clothing Resource Bank SALJER d/b/a Laker Terrace Crossing T.G. Group, LLC The Nerdery, LLC YourCause FOUNDATION GIVING GiveNOLA Day Greater New Orleans Foundation Hogs for the Cause Institute of Mental Hygiene Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation KaBOOM New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation New Schools for New Orleans New Schools Venture Fund


Pro Bono Publico Foundation Ruth E. Fertel Foundatoin Sarah and Paul Densen Charitable Foundation The Booth-Bricker Fund The Campbell Foundation The Jerome S. and Grace H. Murray Foundation The Rockefeller Foundation The Toler Foundation Walton Family Foundation INDIVIDUAL GIVING Hassan Ali Benjamin Arendt Andrea Bailey Brian Beabout Lee and Erin Becker Elizabet Beirise-McAuley Madge Blanz James Borders Jody and Gilbert Braunig George Brown Lolita Burrell Annie Cambria Andrew Cantor Tania Castellanos John Celestin Deniz Celestin Mary Chapman Mark A. Christopher Elaine Clark Dorothy Compeau Phyllis Lawton Cosentino Jennifer Coursey Cynthia Cox Kevin Cox Ronald Dailey Stephanie Davi Nicole DeAbate Jorge Del Carmen Lorraine Densen Mark Densen Jeffrey Densen Stacy DePizzo Meghan Donelon Jane Downs Michelle Doyle Eric Draper Marilee Eaves Elizabeth and Jack Egle’ Deborah Elam Mary Fergusson Louise Fergusson-Saenz

Karley Frankic Meredith and John Frey Joyce G. White Joshua Garvey Margaret Glass Julia Glorioso Jennifer Gonzalez Thomas Gorman Renee Goudeau The Graas Family Bridget Hagan Pamela Hall Halley Hastings Tahmineh Haug Greta Hayes Elizabeth Heeb Krystal Henry Jodi Hermes Susan and William Hess Erich Higbee Samuel Hillson Rosalind Hinton Jean Hochron Lauren Hodges Sharon Howard Katherine Johnston Yvette M. Jones Terry Jones Robbie Keen Chadrick Kennedy Mary Louise Killen Maxine Kimbrell Elaine Kimbrell Carla Knighten Lucie Kramer Wilfred M. Kullman, III Courtney Landry H. Merritt Lane, III Bennie Lashley Catherine Lasky Lawrence Richard Hill Estate Timothy Lewis Mr. and Mrs. J. Thomas Lewis Carolyn Chandler Louden Barbara MacPhee Dorien Mahoney Wendy Manard Carol Markowitz Claire L. Marshall Brandi Martin Dominique Martin Barbara Martin Melissa Matte Christy McMannen Katherine and Timothy Mehok Alan Meltzer

Evelyn and Christopher Merritt Christopher Merritt Matthew Mickal Mark Miester Kevin Moore Kerry Murphy Sara Orton Ozzy Orwick Whiton Paine Martha H. Panzeca James Parker Kate Pedrotty Ashley Penchion Anthony Penchion Mr. and Mrs. Alan H. Philipson Tressa Procter-King Reily Foundation, Boatner Reily Family Fund Chantal Reinlieb Lesley-Anne Rey Paul Reynaud Yvette Rothaermel Kelley Rouse Louise Saenz Mr. and Mrs. Santanilla Julie Sclafani Susan Seagren Christina Sheets Phyllis Shnaider Okiema Singleton Janice Skinner Ginger and Will Smith Tom Snedeker Akinni Snodgrass Sandra Solar David Spencer Novetta Stokes Beth Strickland Renee Tervalon Sanna Thomas Nina and Matthew Thornton Julie Tizzard Melissa Tyler Margot and Jason Want Lucy Warburton Sherry Watters Christie Weidemann Janet White Dabne Whitemore Rochelle Wilcox Barbara and Chris Wilson Christopher Wilson Lauren Wilson Marquita Wright Janice and Brent Yonts

If you are interested in donating time, talent or dollars to Bricolage, you can learn more at or contact Holly Robbins Hermes, Chief Development Officer, at or 504-539-4505 ext. 706.


2019 Revenue


2019 Expenses


Salaries and Benefits


Purchased Professional and Technical Services


Purchased Property Services


Materials and Supplies



State and Local


Private Donations


Federal Funds



In Louisiana, the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) determines the cost to educate students and allocates local and state funding from government sources on a per student basis. The gap created between public MFP funding and program costs does not deter our pursuit of educational equity. We supplement this gap through private support—9% of our 2018–2019 revenue came from private support.

MFP: $10,100 Actual cost: $13,300

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS Yvette Jones, Chair Arnel Cosey, Vice Chair H. Merritt Lane, III, Treasurer Deborah Elam, Secretary Norman Barnum Tonya Johnson Annie Phillips 20

698 STUDENTS Pre-K through Sixth Grade

2426 Esplanade Avenue New Orleans, LA 70119 (504) 539-4505