A unique approach to education at Cypress Academy

New Orleans, La. (WGNO)- We got a chance to tour a school in New Orleans with a unique approach to teaching and learning.

WGNO-TV photographer Ed Matthews took us to Cypress Academy on St. Charles Avenue, and we spoke with the school's leaders.

Bob Berk, Head of School told us, "Cypress Academy was born about 4 years ago. This is our second year with students. As I looked in from outside the public school system, that there was room for another option for public education in New Orleans."

Berk goes on, "It's really fun to talk about Cypress.  When I meet parents I like to say that teacher quality starts with the smile and the hug that they give the kids as soon as they walk in every morning, and that's really important to us.

Dr. Hazel Parker is director of the school and she told us, "One of the things that makes us different from other schools is that we really think that high quality teachers are an important thing here at Cypress Academy.  What that means is that when we decide and think about hiring a teacher, not only do we interview them but we ask them to come to our school and teach a lesson.  We have what's called a two-teacher model, and so for each classroom we have a lead teacher and a classroom teacher.  We really want to nurture children and develop them socially and emotionally, as well as academically.

"We spent some time talking about that kids have to know skills.  We have a class called problem-based learning, all of our kids rotate through that class every week.  We have a teacher whose only job is to do that.  Her job really is to get kids to ask questions, and then to help them figure out answers, says Berk.

Berk continued, "When people call us and they want to send their children here, my response is absolutely.  The only way to know the quality of a school is to walk through the halls and sit in the classes.  You can have fantastic schools that are charter schools, fantastic schools that are regular public schools, fantastic schools that are private schools, but you have to walk in to figure it out"

Cypress Academy is currently educating grades K-2nd grade.