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School for incarcerated kids sees most improvement in Orleans Parish

Travis Hill School inside the Orleans Justice Center and the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center has been recognized as a, 'Louisiana Comeback School.'

NEW ORLEANS — Only one New Orleans school was recognized for seeing higher scores now than before the pandemic. 

Travis Hill School inside the Orleans Justice Center and the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center has been recognized as a, 'Louisiana Comeback School,' by the Louisiana Department of Education. The school services teen and young adult inmates, who are considered juveniles. 

"I don't negate what the kids are accused of or have done but at the end of the day they are still kids and they are entitled and obligated to have an education," said the school's director, Byron Goodwin.

The school is for incarcerated kids but is under the Orleans Parish School District and allows kids to earn a high school diploma. Goodwin said it's structured like a traditional school.

"You'll find English class, science class, history class, math class, P.E," Goodwin said.

Shanell Dowling is the principal.

"We're pushing the envelope, pushing opportunity for kids so it's high engagement, it's fun, there is joy," Dowling said.

They are seeing positive results and being recognized by the state's top school officials.

Travis Hill School was one of only 41 schools across the state that has exceeded pre-pandemic levels for reading and math, earning the title of a 'Louisiana Comeback Campus.' The Louisiana Department of Education compared scores from 2019 to 2022.

"These schools increased the percentage of students scoring Mastery and above and decreased the percentage of students scoring unsatisfactory in both math and ELA on 2022 statewide assessments when compared to 2019. High school Comeback Campuses also increased their ACT score. Statewide, 41 schools representing 29 school systems earned this prestigious honor," the announcement by the Louisiana Department of Education reads.

"I was excited but I wasn't surprised," said Dichelle Williams, Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center. "Because school didn't stop at JJIC. Travis Hill even through COVID, they provided school all year round."

Dowling also emphasized the school community's persistence.
"When you are working really hard and see results, it means a lot," Dowling said. "Any growth they show whether academically or behaviorally, we celebrate that."

"I was elated because we know the work we put into it. It's a hard job, you know education is hard enough, but doing work in these facilities is even harder," Goodwin said.

Other schools in Southeast Louisiana to earn the ‘Comeback Campus’ title are Woodmere School in Jefferson Parish, Galliano Elementary School, Folsom Junior High in St. Tammany, Village East in Terrebonne, and Greeneville Park Leadership Academy, Jewel M Sumner Middle School, and Midway Middle School in Tangipahoa.

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