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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Navigating school is job benefit in New Orleans

How do you find the right school for your son? Help your daughter raise her grades? Understand jargon-heavy mailings? Advocate for a child with special needs? In New Orleans, a nonprofit called EdNavigator is helping parents — many of them poorly educated single mothers — be engaged, effective parents.

EdNavigator persuaded hotels that funding education counseling as a job benefit would cut turnover, raise productivity and save money, writes Mareesa Nicosia in The 74. “The hotels pay EdNavigator a $250 sign-up fee for each employee, then $37.50 monthly per employee.”

Three former leaders of The New Teacher Project (now TNTP) created EdNavigator to empower parents, writes Nicosia. They hired New Orleans natives with experience as teachers, counselors or administrators.

. . . the Navigators act as teachers, principals, consultants, therapists, and personal assistants, depending on what the situation calls for. They monitor special education to ensure students are classified properly and receive their services — a recurrent issue among clients. They decipher progress reports, help with school selection, ensure that basic functions — schools posting calendars and homework assignments retrieved from backpacks — get done. They need soft skills as well: the ability to cajole, petition, or demand action from a school official or give a family tough love or an outpouring of affirmation, whichever helps more.

Other employers, such as Tulane University, have added EdNavigator to their list of job benefits.

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