Bricolage Annual Report 2018

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Toward Bricolage

From start-up to SCALE-UP Dear Bricolage Friends, Families and Community, I am so proud of how far we have come as a school community. In five short years, Bricolage has grown from a Kindergarten program using temporary, makeshift space to a thriving Pre-K through fifth grade school with a track record of success and a promising future. The 2017–2018 school year marked an important milestone for Bricolage. We view it as the end of our beginning, a transition from ‘start up’ to ‘scale up.’ Many of the programs that you will read about in this year’s annual report started as ideas years ago. Bricolage continues to be popular among New Orleans families. This year, we received 10 applications for every kindergarten seat, making us one of the most in-demand kindergarten programs in the city’s universal enrollment system for the third year in a row. In response, and with encouragement from funders and local leaders, we asked ourselves: should we replicate our school and expand operations to other New Orleans neighborhoods? After a six-month growth planning process, our answer is: not yet. As proud as we are about Bricolage’s progress, we also recognize how far we have to go. Academic outcomes must improve and our results must be more equitable. We must deepen our sense of belonging amid a plurality of personal identities and cultures. This type of authentic community building across lines of difference takes time. It also takes Bricolage’s core values: integrity, empathy and courage. We are making progress, and we still have further to go. 2018 was an important milestone for us, and I am thrilled to be able to share the year’s highlights with you in this annual report.


Josh Densen Bricolage Academy Founder and CEO



Welcome to Bricolage! Bricolage is wonder and delight, it is joy and hard work, it is creativity and problem solving. It is shaping the minds of future scientists, future artists, and future changemakers. Bricolage is a school unlike any other school in the City of New Orleans. At Bricolage, students from neighborhoods across our city–crossing traditional lines of difference of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, achievement level, to life experience– learn and create alongside one another. Our students take responsibility for their own learning, they engage in rich dialogue with their teachers, and they work together to apply their knowledge to solve tough problems. Our approach is showing early success: at the end of the 2016–2017 school year Bricolage was the highest performing open enrollment school in New Orleans. This early success is cause for celebration and an opportunity to acknowledge that we are not yet fulfilling our purpose: to achieve equitable outcomes among our students. We are improving the performance for all of our students (every Bricolage student subgroup outperforms their peers statewide), but we still see performance disparities between demographic groups. During the 2017–2018 school year, we continued to clarify and expand the foundational elements of Bricolage’s model that allow us to pave the challenging, rewarding, and unchartered road toward educational equity. A COMMUNITY THAT CREATES UNITY IN DIVERSITY In the world our students will inherit, the ability to engage in new ways of thinking and to collaborate across lines of difference will be essential for their success. Moreover, we believe that ensuring equally high outcomes for all students requires students of all backgrounds to be educated together. We continue to expand opportunities for Bricolage staff and

students to celebrate their identities, explore their identity in relationship to others, and practice creative problem solving alongside peers with different backgrounds and perspectives. A CULTURE THAT ENCOURAGES STUDENT AGENCY AND RISK-TAKING Supporting the development of empathetic, independent thinkers who embrace failure and collaborate with those that are different than themselves requires us to prioritize students’ social/emotional development along with their academic achievement. Our approach elevates social/emotional learning from a supplementary program to the way in which we teach our students. Bricolage teachers nurture a sense of belonging that makes students feel comfortable taking risks and create lessons that are connected to students’ interests. In our classrooms, students work cooperatively more than teachers provide direct instruction, and students are empowered to manage themselves and the work they are doing.

A CURRICULUM THAT FOSTERS MASTERY, DEEP THINKING AND EXPRESSION All Bricolage students take core classes in math, reading, writing, science and social studies, as well as co-curricular classes including Innovator’s Workshop, art, music, health and physical education. Our elementary school’s English Language Arts curriculum and The Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop requires students to read and write daily and encourages a love of reading, deep comprehension and personal expression. This year marked the first year that we extended our pilot math program, Bridges in Mathematics, across all grades. Through Bridges, our teachers foster deep understanding of math concepts and support students to solve complex problems. AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE CREATIVITY IS NURTURED AND CELEBRATED Bricolage students are tinkerers, creators, makers. All Bricolage students attend Innovator’s Workshop, our engineering and design co-curricular class, twice each week. As early as kindergarten, students become familiar with the design process: identifying a problem that needs to be solved, developing prototypes, and building and testing solutions. Students’ favorite challenges are those that allow them to solve real problems facing their peers and their community.

Our approach is showing early success: LEAP 2017 results showed Bricolage as the highest performing open enrollment school in New Orleans.






American Indian







African American









of students are considered Economically Disadvantaged per state reports


10 :1 Pre-K

13 :1 ​Kindergarten

26 :1 First through Fifth grade


Advance educational equity by preparing students from diverse backgrounds to be innovators who change the world.

VALUES Courage Empathy Integrity


Toward EQUITY During the 2017-2018 school year, Bricolage continued to serve one of the most diverse student populations in the City of New Orleans.

55 percent of our students are students of color and 45 percent are white, 42 percent are economically disadvantaged, and nearly 20 percent are students with exceptionalities. Our community’s diversity is mission-critical, and this year, we implemented an enrollment policy to protect ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, including a permanent admissions preference for students who are economically disadvantaged. We know that students thrive in a community where they feel a sense of belonging and significance. Through our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, we strive to create a safe, inclusive, supportive, and joyful school community where everyone is seen, heard and known. We have taken important steps to advance our work in this area:


DEEPENING COMMUNITY AWARENESS OF RACE, POWER AND PRIVILEGE This year, we expanded our work to engage members of our school community in conversations about race, identity and equity. In one small but significant example, each day at Bricolage begins with Morning Meeting, an opportunity for students to share meaningful stories about their lives, and for teachers to help students embrace difference and build connections with one another. To strengthen our parent community's cross-cultural relationships, all Bricolage parents were invited to attend a two-day training led by the Racial Equity Institute at Delgado Community College. FOSTERING MORE FREQUENT DIALOGUE Bricolage’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee meets

regularly to identify opportunities to deepen awareness and build a shared understanding of issues of race, class, power and privilege among our staff and broader community. One important outcome of the Committee’s work this year was identifying the need for more professional development and dialogue about fostering inclusion and equity in the classroom. In response, midyear, we reallocated half of our staff development sessions to DEI-related topics. We also established the Bricolage DEI Library, curating a set of resources available to all staff, parents and students, to deepen understanding and broaden perspectives. EXPANDING CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING Using culturally responsive teaching is central to the success of all of our students, particularly students

of color. Bricolage’s differentiated, highly personalized instructional program ensures that each child is challenged with work that is developmentally appropriate and connected to their interests. LOOKING AHEAD During the 2018–2019 school year, we will add a DEI director to our elementary leadership team who will support and develop teachers to advance equity within their classrooms. Bricolage will continue to play a lead role promoting awareness and understanding of DEI initiatives among parents and stakeholders, developing a multiyear strategy and goals, and engaging external partners to expand the initiatives’ reach.

Teaching students to discuss issues of race and identity openly during the school day helps build a sense of community across lines of difference and creates a restorative learning environment where all children feel a sense of belonging, particularly those from historically oppressed communities.” – Jasmine Araujo



At Bricolage, we value joy. We cultivate an environment that values play and exploration, and where challenge inspires creativity. 9

Toward COMMUNITY A critical component of advancing equity is ensuring that all Bricolage students can fully access our academic and enrichment programs. This year, we expanded implementation of key cultural programs to support students’ emotional health and wellbeing, and to help them reach their highest potential: RESPONSIVE CLASSROOM A significant achievement during the 2017–2018 school year was the adoption of Responsive Classroom as the foundation of our student culture and community building. Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to educating children that values—and fosters—the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional development. The Responsive Classroom model emphasizes a set of social and emotional competencies (cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control) and a set of academic competencies (academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors). Responsive Classroom’s guiding principles are explicitly aligned to hallmarks of our model and our founding vision: 1) teaching social and emotional skills is as important as 10

Responsive Classroom allows students to feel safe and supported in their space. Logical consequences allow students to think about negative behavior, (“Why am I doing this?”,“How am I hurting/affecting others?”, and “What can I do to make it right?”) Responsive Classroom is not punitive.” – Brandi Rose Michael, Kindergarten Teacher

teaching academic content; 2) how we teach is as important as what we teach; 3) cognitive growth occurs through social interaction; 4) how we work together as adults to cre­ate a safe, joyful and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence; 5) what we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expec­ tations, reactions and attitudes about those students; and 6) partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach. The Responsive Classroom philosophy and beliefs about teaching have been infused into every part of the Bricolage day. Responsive Classroom shapes the way Bricolage teachers interact with students and how students interact with their peers. Every morning begins with a facilitated Morning Meeting that nurtures community and students’ emotional safety, which sets the tone for a day full of risk taking, collaboration, and fun. The foundation of student agency and safety is well-managed classrooms, and Bricolage teachers work hard to explicitly define and practice management expectations. Students

experience consistent expectations in the classroom, at recess, in the lunchroom—even in our hallways. At Bricolage, we value joy. We cultivate an environment that values play and exploration, and where challenge inspires creativity. Bricolage does not institute a traditional merit/ demerit system, color charts or punishments for noncompliance. We do not give extrinsic rewards or punishments; instead, we develop intrinsic motivation through logical consequences. Julia Monke, kindergarten teacher and Responsive Classroom leader describes her philosophy: “When a student is not behaving in a joyful, safe or engaging way, it is an opportunity to teach. Behavior takes practice. Some kids simply need more practice than others.” PIONEERING PROGRAMS TO SUPPORT OUR MOST VULNERABLE STUDENTS Our students’ academic strengths and needs are as diverse as their backgrounds. We continue to refine our academic model to ensure that we meet every student where they are, encouraging and developing their unique gifts. Toward our commitment to equity, Bricolage is leading the implementation of two additional

research-based interventions in New Orleans: Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) and Reading Recovery. TRUST-BASED RELATIONAL INTERVENTION (TBRI®) TBRI® is a trauma-informed approach that offers practical tools to support children from hard places. Using TBRI this year, we were able to better meet vulnerable students’ needs—and empower them—by teaching them effective strategies rather than penalizing them for extreme behaviors. The New Orleans Collaborative for Children selected Bricolage to develop a model of how TBRI can be implemented effectively at a school site. As a part of their investment, all Bricolage staff have been trained in the practices of TBRI, and three administrators received a weeklong training to support teachers across the school. Moving forward, New Orleans Collaborative for Children hopes to train and support 10–15 schools across New Orleans to implement TBRI.





Reading Recovery is a research-based reading intervention targeted toward a school’s most struggling first grade readers. The program provides qualifying students with 30-minute, oneon-one daily tutoring sessions with a specially trained Reading Recovery Teacher for 12–20 weeks.

We know that our most struggling readers in first grade are disproportionately students of color and students who are economically disadvantaged. Through Reading Recovery, we seek to implement a proven, intensive intervention that aligns with our highly personalized academic model. Reading Recovery supports a greater percentage of our early elementary students to achieve mastery of reading and writing skills earlier, setting them on the path for academic success before the third grade.


We are grateful to the Institute of Mental Hygiene, The Campbell Foundation and the Reading Recovery Council of North America, who invested in Bricolage as a Reading Recovery pioneer in New Orleans. Last year, a Bricolage teacher completed Reading Recovery Teacher Leader training, and with additional support in the 2018-2019 school year, we will be able to train three additional Reading Recovery Teachers. As the only training site in Orleans Parish, we look forward to opportunities to engage other schools and teachers throughout the city in this important intervention. BUILDING COMPETENCE THROUGH CONFIDENCE This year, we have also seen success supporting students who are struggling in math by celebrating their math achievements and helping them to take pride in their work. Students select a “Pride Partner” with whom they will share their successes. Students are empowered to use technology—video, pictures, email— or meet in person to share how they solved a tough problem, teach a new skill, or showcase their work. Celebrations are student-driven and build competence in skills as well as foster connection within our broader school community. In addition to improved skills, classroom teachers report that through this simple act, participating students are more confident, more independent, and more engaged.





INNOVATION This year, we are thrilled to introduce one of Bricolage’s newest creations: BricoRadio.



BricoRadio gives students a purpose for applying their writing and reading skills, develops their confidence, and encourages them to explore their unique interests. Student Academic Interventionist Diana Turner saw students struggling to engage in core curriculum and failing to connect to “why” they were learning certain concepts. A lightbulb went off for Ms. Turner: “the intervention space should be the most innovative and the most personalized because we are seeking to meet needs that cannot be met in the classroom,” she describes. “We decided to design the most compelling programs we could with our most vulnerable students at the center.” Ms. Turner teamed up with Innovator’s Workshop Teacher Alex Owens to design a program that would engage students in reading and writing in ways that mattered to them. The result? BricoRadio.

BricoRadio is a radio show created by Bricolage students for the Bricolage community. Students write and produce radio programs reflecting their interests: “New and Now,” “Top Fives,” “Hall-of-Famer/Hall-of-Shamer.” Founder Josh Densen recalls when the first episode of BricoRadio dropped in January: “It was just one of those Bricolage moments—for me, a top five Bricolage moment since we opened. Third-, fourth- and fifth- grade students empowered to create a radio show to showcase their creative energy, talking about outer space and Trombone Shorty. This is who we are.” Since its launch, students have written and produced ten episodes with stories covering a wide range of student interests: New Orleans sports teams, jazz music, fashion, African American leaders and even edible slime.

BricoRadio’s success was recognized in spring 2018 when Turner, Owens and a group of elementary students pitched the program to New Schools for New Orleans, winning the organization’s citywide design challenge and earning grant funding to expand the program in important ways. Moving forward, resources will support more opportunities for students to experiment and showcase their work using digital media. The BricoRadio program was originally created to support vulnerable students—71 percent of students met their goals in language and reading fluency and comprehension through the program—and it has become enormously popular. We are laying plans for a school-wide radio show that engages all students during Workshop, after school and through class projects. For staff, BricoRadio is more than an amazing radio show. It represents an exciting first step into what we now describe as “inno-vention”— creating opportunities for students that explicitly connect their interests, their capacity for creativity and design, and their mastery of content. KREWE TIME This year, Bricolage students continued to build community and identity through our beloved Krewe program. Students begin their Krewe journey in kindergarten, when each classroom is assigned to one of Bricolage’s four school-wide Krewes: Spark, Clever, Whimsy and Wonder. Students’ Krewes follow them after kindergarten, and are a source of school spirit and joy for students and teachers alike throughout their Bricolage experience. This year, new students were welcomed into their Krewes at the beginning of the school year during a raucous and joyful “Sorting Hat” ceremony, and school-wide Krewes united once each quarter: Halloween, our annual Mardi Gras parade (complete with custom Krewe doubloons designed and fashioned by students in Workshop!), a special holiday celebration and during our end-of-year Field Day. This year, in addition to these memorable school-wide celebrations, grade-level Krewes met weekly during Morning Meeting time. As students grow and change, adding an opportunity for them to check in with one another more frequently plays a critical role in building identity and connection, and in helping students sustain healthy relationships over time. As Krewe leader and Interventionist Sari Levy explains, “Krewe is who we are. It is our values in action.”


Toward our


Here are some highlights:

APPLYING DESIGN AS CHANGE-MAKERS Our middle school curriculum is uniquely designed to encourage our students to recognize challenges in their community, the world around them—applying themselves as innovators and problem-solvers to make change. Each day, Bricolage Middle School students will start their day in a small advisory group exploring “Who Am I?” and “Who Do I Want to Be?” as part of the High Resolves social/emotional learning and global citizenship curriculum. The ELA curriculum, Wit & Wisdom, will feature gradelevel modules rooted in a thoughtprovoking topic: Breaking Barriers (fifth grade), Courage in Crisis (sixth grade), Language and Power (seventh grade), and The Poetics and Power of Storytelling (eighth grade). These topics will empower students as change agents by highlighting social activists and lesser-known heroes, focusing on the process of social change, and making connections to inspire future change. Middle School students will apply change-making skills through completion of two annual projects within the broader community: Bricolage, New Orleans, Louisiana, the United States and the world.

INTEGRATED STUDIES Ms. Wilbern spent the year cultivating expert teachers to design and execute an integrated studies approach: fifth grade students will take Humanities (English Language Arts and Social Studies) and STEM (Science and Math) classes daily, and Spanish, Innovator’s Workshop, Changemaking and traditional co-curriculars (art,

MASTERY THROUGH PERSONALIZATION Middle School students will embrace mastery—along with creativity— by taking a more active role in identifying their goals and developing personalized learning plans. Once a week, middle school students will participate in designated personalized

One of the most meaningful moments of our year was the “Fourth Grade Rising” ceremony, designed and produced by our fourth grade students to mark their transition from elementary to middle school. We are thrilled that all of our fourth grade students—many of them hailing from Bricolage's flagship kindergarten class of 2013—will enroll as the founding class of Bricolage Middle School. The middle school will open its doors in the historic John McDonogh High School building in Fall 2018. Our middle school Principal, Antigua Wilbern, was one of 25 leaders nationwide to launch an innovative school through New Schools Venture Fund’s Invent Cohort. Ms. Wilbern spent the 2017–2018 school year immersed at Bricolage, working alongside students and teachers to design a first-of-its kind middle school for New Orleans. Bricolage Middle will carry forward the essence of Bricolage’s elementary program and build upon it to further develop empathetic, creative, problem-solving students prepared for success in the city’s best high schools.


music, physical education and health) weekly. Like the elementary school, instruction will be differentiated by skill level, student interest and/or learning style.

learning time when they will rotate to different stations learning at their own pace and working toward meeting their individual goals. Middle School students will also have the opportunity to build or deepen relationships with adults in our community with whom they share a personal interest. Students will have four opportunities per year to choose an exploration topic, including gaming, culinary arts, fashion, technology, and design.

Bricolage Middle will carry forward the essence of Bricolage’s elementary program and build upon it to further develop empathetic, creative, problemsolving students prepared for success in the city’s best high schools.








2018 Revenue

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—12% of our 2017–2018 revenue came from private support.

2018 Expenses


Salaries and Benefits


Purchased Professional and Technical Services




Purchased Property



State and Local

Private Donations





Toward SUSTAINABILITY INDIVIDUAL GIFTS Matthew Allemand Benjamin Arendt Brian Beabout Mr. and Mrs. Lee Becker Katherine Boden Peter Bodenheimer James Borders Helaine Braunig Jody and Gilbert Braunig Lisa Brodwin George Brown Lolita Burrell Mr. and Mrs. Albert P. Bush III Andrea Cambria Andrew Cantor Tania Castellanos Carolyn Chandler Janice Chaney Skinner Mark Christopher George Clark Jeffrey Clary Rosie Colomb Dorothy Compeau Jeremy Corbett Phyllis Lawton Cosentino Robert Cosentino Kevin Cox Keith Crawford Khayriyyah Cutno Nicole DeAbate Jorge Del Carmen Jeffrey Densen Lorraine Densen Mark Densen Sarah Densen Stacy DePizzo Meghan Donelon Michelle Doyle Marilee Eaves Elizabeth and Jack Egle’ Michael Emmert-Kantor Erin Engelhardt Melissa Goldin Evans Robert Evans Mary Fergusson Carrie Fisher Mitchell and Catherine Frank Mary Garton Akash Ghiya Barbara and Tim Gilbert Kara Gipson Margaret Glass Margo Goulas Nicole and Jonathan Grass Angela Gremillion Bridget Hagan Pamela Hall

Julie Schwam Harris Halley Hastings Tahmineh Haug Krystal Henry Mr. and Mrs. William Hess James Hochron Lauren Hodges Yvette Jones Helen Katz Takako Kawamura Tina Kearney Robbie Keen Elaine Kimbrell Andrew Kopplin Margot Kramer Lawrence Kullman Courtney Landry Megan Lane Mr. and Mrs. Jay M. Lapeyre Laurie Leiva Timothy Lewis Kathryn Lorio Megan Lunz Calvin Mackie Barbara MacPhee Tracie Madison Dorien Mahoney Wendy Manard Dianne Masten Christy McMannen Stanton McNeely Katherine Mehok Timothy Mehok Miklos Mendler Mark Miester Kerry Murphy Lasky Murphy Caitlin O'Hern Burns Katell Orjubin Johann Palacios James Parker Kate Pedrotty Mr. and Mrs. Alan H. Philipson Dorothy Phillips Tressa Procter-King Wyoming Quinn Caroline Roemer Yvette Rothaermel Kelley Rouse Louise Saenz Jario and Kathryn Santanilla Kenneth Schwartz Julie Sclafani Roseann Alan Shaiman Jeremy Sharrard Christina Sheets Mrs. Elizabeth Nalty and Mr. Richard Simmons

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.

Marianne Sinanan Okiema Singleton Jon and Julie Skolass Thomas Snedeker David Spencer Cynthia St. Amant Novetta Stokes Renee Tervalon Alcide Tervalon Jr. Karen Tipton Julie Tizzard Sylvia Trepagnier Melissa Tyler Margot Want Melissa Warren Sherry Watters Christie Weidemann Anne Wheeler Dabne Whitemore Barbara and Chris Wilson Christopher Wilson Jaime Wright Jessica Yuratich Beth Yuvancic Patricia Zimmer FOUNDATION AND CORPORATE GIFTS 4Point0 Schools Amazon Smile Baptist Community Ministries Box Tops for Education Canal Barge Company, Inc. Cities for Education Entrepreneurship CocaCola Give Community Coffee Company Delgado Community College Domino Sugar Gustaf W. McIlhenny Foundation Hogs for The Cause IBERIABANK IBM International Foundation Institute of Mental Hygiene JD Russell Consulting LLC Jerome S. & Grace H. Murray Foundation Laser Tag of Metairie Network for Good New Schools for New Orleans Primary Clothing Pro Bono Publico Foundation Reading Recovery Council of North America Reily Foundation/ Boatner Reily Family Fund Revolution Foods Robert Reily Family Trust The Campbell Foundation The Rosamary Foundation The Toler Foundation Walton Family Foundation Woodward Interest

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. 21

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

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Alan Philipson, Chair Yvette Jones, Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect H. Merritt Lane, III, Treasurer Arnel Cosey, PhD, Secretary Deborah Elam Tonya Johnson Todd McDonald M. Cleland Powell, III

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