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From Devastation to Transformation: Gulf Coast Schools Deliver 21st Century Education

When schools recently opened in New Orleans this year, Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS) Principal Colleen Winkler asked one of her first graders if she could write her name. The child said, “No, but I can text it.” Schools have always been the center of our communities, and there is no clearer illustration of the central role that technology is taking in our lives. 

Five years ago, Cisco and the Jefferson Parish Public School System partnered in an effort to rebuild the schools following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. JPPSS superintendent, Dr. Diane Roussel, had the foresight to see that technology could transform teaching and learning and keep students engaged. Just days after Hurricane Katrina, with most schools decimated and 28,000 students displaced, Cisco, Jefferson Parish and partners from the private, public and education sectors came together to help. Within one month, Cisco committed $80 million to create the 21st Century Schools initiative to help transform the education systems of eight districts in Louisiana and Mississippi. Shortly after our employees, through the Cisco Leadership Fellows program began working side-by-side with JPPSS employees to transform the district’s technology infrastructure. 

Five years later, the results are impressive.  From 2006-2009, math scores throughout the Jefferson Parish Public School district jumped more than 10 points and English scores jumped 7 points.  Dropouts are down by half with dropouts recorded at 167 in 2006 and only 80 in 2009.  Enrollment is up more than 35 percent. 

On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it is important to reflect on the days following that horrific event. As Cisco employees, we also reflect on the inspirational drive of the Jefferson Parish Public School administrators, and the remarkable difference that technology has made in the lives of the district’s students and teachers. We should all be proud of the part we played in the transformation of the district, and excited by the potential that technology has to transform the experiences of students and teachers around the world. 

For more about the role of technology in education, we invite you to participate in a live, social broadcast on August 31 at 11 a.m. PT with Cisco’s VP of Corporate Affairs, Amy Christen. Amy will share her insights on the latest approaches to education and take your questions. Click here for more information.

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12 Comments.


  1. It’s right action.

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  2. Great read! Thank you so much. :)

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  3. This looks good Robyn. The evolution and transformation of the district’s technology infrastructure has been pretty good and the results are definitely impressive. I am working on a Cisco certification myself, and good luck to you at Cisco and have a nice day ;).

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  4. Thank goodness the people planning the rebuilding of these devastated communities had the forethought to rebuild even better with improvements such as this. Congratulations to Cisco for their involvement.

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  5. Nice to see these impressive recovery results just five years after the tragic event. These education oportunities certainly will make a great change in the future of the region.

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  6. Thanks for sharing nice video.I like to watch.

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  7. This is really good news! Any jump in educational results is great. Although I had to laugh at a child who couldn’t spell her name but could text it. What a world we live in!

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  8. I honestly wish the schools would be privatized because upgrading to a modern world”" with the government as the lead is just not a good idea.Good for these people, and good post.”

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  9. In the aftermath of tragic events like katrina people reach out so well to help, but over time news stop covering and the money stop coming in. This people need our help not only when its trendy and popular, but for years to come. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Hi Robyn,Nice Details Regarding about Eduction Qualification.Quality Video I like to see.

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  11. Impressive indeed!I think it’s the motivation that comes with the use of contemporary techniques that places the students in the center of modern society.Well done.

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  12. We are very proud of transformation of school to the finest levels and we are happy and thank you for the subject and the school Ntnmy further progress

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