New Orleans Education Post-Katrina

Education in the city of New Orleans has changed a great deal since hurricane Katrina took place in August of 2005. New Orleans education now revolves around the concept of charter schools. These schools were established out a need that arose in the wake of the natural tragedy. To date they have been shown to be of benefit to the children and adolescents being educating in them.

There is currently a move in the New Orleans Public Schools system to decentralize power that was previously held by the school board’s central bureaucracy before Katrina and give it to certain school boards and individual school principals. These reforms will make it possible for the charter schools to make many of their own decisions and to allow the parents of children attending public schools to enroll them in any school they wish to in the district. It is worth mentioning that at the present time the majority of public school students in the city of New Orleans attend these charters schools. New Orleans education has undergone a tremendous change in the post-Katrina days out of necessity. New Orleans is the only city in the United States where public charters dominate the educational system.

In attempting to understand the New Orleans education system in the wake of the hurricane that changed the way the citizens live their lives, it is important to understand what these schools are all about. Let us take a look at that now.

Charter schools have been garnering a great deal of attention in the past few years however they are not a brand new concept. These types of schools which are privately governed have been around for the past two decades. According to a survey published in 2009 there are more than 4,900 charter schools throughout the nation and as many as 1.5 million students are in attendance at these schools.

Charter schools resemble a type of educational reform that has not only affected New Orleans education but the education in other areas of the country as well. The state of California has chosen to embrace this new form of schooling as well. Charter schools offer a viable alternative to educating students and making sure that they obtain the best education that they possibly can.

Public charters are funded in much the same ways that public schools are funded. The difference is that charter schools are not governed by the state but in a private manner. While conventional public schools do not have to worry about being closed down if they do not yield successful results in their academics and teaching process, charter schools do have this worry placed on their shoulders from the start. Every charter school that opens its doors must be able to prove that it is successful and that its students are learning properly and learning well in order to be able to maintain their charter.

These schools are for all grades from kindergarten up to grade 12. While they are publicly funded they are open to accept private donations in the same way that public schools are. Every school charter that is established in the New Orleans educational system and elsewhere is free from some of the constraints placed on public schools. However there is a level of accountability inherent in every charter that specific results must be obtained in order for the charter to remain in place. A charter school is open to anyone who wishes to attend and these schools are not permitted to charge students fees to obtain their schooling. Be aware that these new types of schools are a component of the public education system.

Personal Branding: The Lighthouse Branding Model

More and more people are talking about the importance of personal branding, both in career searching and in career development. Effective personal branding not only makes you stand out from the crowd to employers and recruiters, it can also increase your job security by communicating your value as a leader and team player to your organization.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you bring to an organization, team and/or project and communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.

The Lighthouse Personal Branding Model

The lighthouse is a great model for breaking down the branding process into four key steps: the foundation, the beacon, the tower and the beam.

Foundation:

Your foundation is your unarguable strengths and experience in your chosen area. To identify your own foundation, write down the strengths that differentiate you from the rest and ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same for you. Identify the top three to five overlapping strengths that support the career direction you want to pursue.

Beacon:

Your beacon is the memorable and consistent communication of your strengths and experience. Now that you have identified your foundation, it’s time to create your beacon by finding a word or phrase that represents these strengths and can become your brand. Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail. Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction.

Tower:

Simply put, your tower is your visibility, reach and presentation, both online and offline, which support the beacon. This is really everything you do to proactively build your personal brand. The higher you build your tower with your efforts, the more visible you will be to potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to proactively build your brand and credibility in front of your target audience:

Create a LinkedIn profile and follow the suggested steps to complete your profile 100 percent, making sure you include your personal brand and pitch in your subtitle and summary sections.

Create a Google account and profile for improved search engine optimization.

Include your personal brand on your resume, cover letter, business cards, email signature, voicemail message and across your other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Consider creating a personal website/blog site where you can house all of your information, including experience, education, skills, honors, entrepreneurial efforts and more.

Start your own blog with a unique point of view on your industry/area of interest.

Contribute value in your book or product reviews, your tweets, your comments on other blog posts, your own blog articles or articles for print publications, your discussions in LinkedIn Groups and your advice via LinkedIn Answers or other forums.

Start a company full-time or on the side with relevant and valuable products/services/resources for the industry.

Publish and offer print and/or electronic publications.

Get quoted in the media by joining HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and contributing advice, experiences and insights to writers and journalists seeking expert sources.
Beam:

Your beam is your career direction and more active personal branding and career search strategy. It involves you gaining and projecting a strong understanding of where you want to go, what you want to pursue and how you will pursue it. First, you need to determine what functional area, geography and industries/companies you want to target. Then, you need to actively network your brand with potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to start:

Join associations or networking groups within your industry and attend events to meet new contacts and build your target network. Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts.

Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions.

Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event.

Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts.

Get recommended on LinkedIn and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners
Personal Application

I used this model to help develop my own personal brand during my MBA career search. Having identified my foundation to be my endless energy, out-of-the-box creativity, relationship building and problem solving, I looked for a word that could pull all of those strengths together into one memorable brand message. The beacon I chose was “generator” as I generate energy, creativity, relationships and solutions to problems. I was pursuing a career in marketing and brand management, and therefore, I became a brand and marketing generator. I proactively built my tower by incorporating my brand directly into my online profiles, my resumes and my entrepreneurial efforts. I then took a more active approach, targeting the “beam” by incorporating my personal brand in my interview responses, networking introductions and informational interview outreach. It was this process that helped me successfully secure my current employment, and this model continues to help guide all of my professional and entrepreneurial ventures.

Defining YOUR Personal Brand Image

Branding, creating, and maintaining your personal image can be a powerful tool in helping you become the type of professional that you want to be. But, why would someone want to brand themselves? Think about this in the way that you would think about how to market any product. If you were to market a new car you may talk about the cars features, such as gas mileage or how safe it is. You would also figure out who you are trying to market this car to. For instance, you would not want to market a two-door sports car to large family of six. Finally, when marketing a car, you will want to tell clients about the promises and guarantees that will separate this car from others like it. The style of marketing your personal brand is very similar.

You must market yourself by highlighting your individual features and emphasizing them to your potential managers and employers. You must know who in particular you are trying to target with your brand. And finally, what your individual brand message is and what you promise to accomplish in your occupation. By marketing yourself as a unique individual, knowing your target audience, and creating and maintaining your personal brand message and promise, you can develop a strong professional brand image. It is important to know who you are and what your existing personal brand is in order to further develop your image. Particularly, what makes you, you. By staying true to yourself first, you can begin to move your brand forward. Think about your personal beliefs and what type of person you are. These are the things that make you, you. Do not try to change who you are in order to develop an image. If you change and adapt who you are to create an image, you are not creating a personal brand image, but rather a generic brand image that will not allow you to emphasize what you offer specifically and on an individual level. Rather, you must grow your brand image from what you already possess. Focus on what makes you who you are and develop a professional brand image based on these existing attributes.

Once you have defined this personal existing brand, you can begin to address how you can make your brand different, set yourself apart, and grow your own unique brand image. For instance, what do you offer as a professional, and what can you bring to others? What are the skills that you possess that set you apart from the competition? These are the things that will make you stand out from others around you and positively grow your personal brand image. A positive attitude and confidence in your abilities and what you know you are capable of achieving are the first steps to developing your own unique and specific personal brand. Along with your individual attributes, it is important to develop skills that will help to set you apart from others around you. Focus on what you will do to go above and beyond the competition. This will help you to create that unique brand image that will take potential clients from possibly needing your services, to them wanting the services and skills that they know you offer. It is also important to focus on strong communication skills with your potential clients. This can be a positive step to boosting your personal brand by creating a strong relationship between yourself and your clientele, and will also help you to maintain this positive relationship.

Your unique personal brand image will set you apart from the competition for resources and help you to grow relationship that will last a lifetime. Finally, when developing your individual brand image, it is key to know what your message will be and what promises you can offer. You must put into place your personal brand values. These values are what services you can bring to your work situation and what you can achieve. Your message must focus on what you specialize in, what attributes in your unique brand image distinguish you from the rest, and your leadership abilities. This brand message will allow your potential clients to see who you are and know what they will receive from you and your work. Clients must also be able to see what your brands’ promise is to them. Your brand promise should focus on your commitment to service, what you can achieve for the potential customer, and finally, your individual reputation. It is also important to communicate to clients that you may not be perfect. Be honest with them. If mistakes have been made in the past, use these as a promise to clients that the mistake has been addressed, learned from, and will not happen in the future.

By creating your individual brand image, you are taking the most important step to success. Look at who you are as an individual, focus on what your unique abilities are, separate yourself from the competition around you, and maintain your brand through a commitment to service. Through these steps you can create and maintain a strong brand image that can lead to future benefits and success in your career.