THE ICON: Leslie Jacobs
THE LEGACY: When Hurricane Katrina devasted New Orleans in 2005, Leslie Jacobs rolled up her sleeves and got to work. Having served on the Orleans Parish School Board and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, she became an architect of what would be known as the Recovery School District, working to get most of New Orleans’ historically poor-performing schools put into the district and persuading charter school operators to be part of the process of rebuilding and improving them. It paid off. Test results improved, the dropout rate fell and the charter system, which enrolls more than 70 percent of the city’s public school students, has been hailed as a model for the rest of the country.
THE ARTIST: Saegan Swanson, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “The conversation about education in Louisiana is no longer about who to blame for our failures, but about making sure each child learns and each school succeeds and recognizing their improvement. Leslie Jacobs changed that conversation; Leslie Jacobs changed the way public education in Louisiana works.” — Gov. Mike Foster