New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, LA - 2013 Transformation Award Winner

Mary Kate Appel

Transformation Award: For enabling further development in the arts while ensuring individual academic needs are met to advance to the college level.

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) understands the importance of arts to education. This arts high school provides the opportunity for fine arts students to pursue pre-professional arts training in 11 disciplines: classical instrumental, creative writing, culinary arts, drama, dance, jazz, media arts, musical theatre, theatre design, visual arts and vocal music. Students complete an integrated academic curriculum in the morning and arts training in the afternoon.

Because NOCCA recognizes that artistic talent is not connected to academic performance, the school accepts students based on an audition, not past academic achievement. Since the school is committed to supporting each student, regardless of their academic strengths or weaknesses, some students need remediation in core subjects. For this, NOCCA uses FuelEd’s prescriptive learning and remediation program. Through this program, teachers are able to use diagnostic tests to work with students in small groups to address specific skills and objectives. Teachers are able to spend less time finding remediation material and more time providing students the targeted lessons they need to move forward.        

NOCCA also understands the connection world languages have to the arts, so they use Middlebury Interactive Languages™ to offer students a variety of world language options. They specifically offer five languages at four levels each, something they could not do on their own. In addition, Middlebury provides NOCCA with the flexibility to allow students to complete their world language courses in a blended environment—at home and at school—so that they can take advantage of rehearsals and studio space while they are on campus. Students are able to choose languages that interest them and that connect with their disciplines. For example, some vocal music students study German and Spanish to help with their arias, while some media arts students, with an interest in French Noir film, study French.

This year, NOCCA is integrating individual online courses into its curriculum by piloting an online health class. Lastly, NOCCA achieves amazing results. Each year, a remarkable 95–98 percent of their graduates go on to college and conservatory programs across the country.

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