Synopses & Reviews
"A testament to the teachers who supported Katrina's children, Sugarcane Academy
reminds us all that heroes hold small hands on field trips, clean paint brushes, and sing morning songs." --Phillip Done, author of 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching
As floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina surged at their heels, fleeing New Orleanians had their minds more on safety than whether their children would be missing school. But when a group of evacuee parents who settled in New Iberia, Louisiana, realized they would not be returning home quickly, they set about reconstructing their families lives. And so they turned to beloved New Orleans schoolteacher Paul Reynaud, whose fierce determination and unwavering spirit transformed an abandoned office into a one-room schoolhouse. This is the story of Sugarcane Academy: twenty-five students, their devoted parents, an inspiring teacher, and the boundless power of learning.
This wonderful memoir manages to do what a flood of news-reporting could not: see the tragedy of Katrina through the eyes of children. The story of the Sugarcane Academy, an improvised one-room school in a sugarcane parish in south Louisiana, will be one of the lasting books of our tragedy.” --Andrei Codrescu, author of New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings from the City
Michael Tisserand is the author of The Kingdom of Zydeco, which won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music writing. He served as editor of Gambit Weekly, the alternative newsweekly of New Orleans. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.
Sugarcane Academy: Building a School After Katrina tells the story of one adventurous teacher and his one-room schoolhouse. Circling around Mr. Reynaud's educational oasis are parents coping with losing their homes and trying to plan new futures, while learning to live on food stamps and FEMA assistance checks. It's a story of an unexpected journey to Cajun country for a classroom of children who are among the youngest victims of a national disaster.
Sugarcane Academy also tells the stories of other evacuee children who landed in the Lafayette area. A boy born of Ukranian parents who holed up in a New Orleans medical center for four days after the hurricane, telling his mother he couldn't stop thinking about death. An ad-hoc tutoring room set up in the Cajundome, one of the sports arenas-turned-massive shelters that line Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge through Texas. There, counselors are using art and play to help children who witnessed tragedies, who lost family members. Through memoir, essay and reporting, the book will also reveal how race and class issues factor in both education and a natural disaster.
We are still understanding how Katrina tore into the lives of children. Sugarcane Academy will profile one remarkable teacher and a group of children as they persevere through the storm's aftermath. It will also show that, even under the most difficult of circumstances, you can still find moments of sweetness.
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, taking lives and livelihoods and displacing thousands. Because the hurricane struck at the beginning of the school year, the citys children were among those most affected. Michael Tisserand, former editor of the alternative cultural newspaper Gambit Weekly, evacuated with his family to New Iberia, Louisiana. Then, rather than waiting to find out whenor ifschools in New Orleans would reopen, Tisserand and other parents persuaded one of his childrens teachers, Paul Reynaud, to start a school among the sugarcane fields.So was born the Sugarcane Academyas the children themselves named itand so also began an experience none of Reynauds pupils will ever forget. This inspiring book shows how a dedicated teacher made the best out of the worst situation, and how the children of New Orleans, of all backgrounds and races, adjusted to Katrinas consequences.
About the Author
MICHAEL TISSERAND is the author of The Kingdom of Zydeco, which won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music writing. He served as editor of Gambit Weekly, the alternative newsweekly of New Orleans. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.