The man who learned he loved teaching school one summer while teaching Algiers 5th graders in the early 1970s is erasing the proverbial blackboard one last time: Dr. Brian Riedlinger---long recognized as one of Louisiana’s top public educators---retires after a career that spanned five decades.
So begins a national search to replace the position he has held at the non-profit School Leadership Center for 20 years, a professional development center he founded with like-minded corporate and philanthropic supporters to improve principals and other leaders in Orleans public education.
At the time he started SLC, Brian was a recognized Louisiana Principal of the year and had three education degrees under his belt as well as multiple awards and recognitions for his talent at turning around troubled public schools. Well before the 2005 storms and levee failures that forced the restructuring of the Orleans public school system, Riedlinger was intent on finding a way to share his education success with others and improve the parish’s 120 schools, nearly all of which were academically failing at the time.
And then the storm to change all storms hit, and Brian, with years of ideas and dreams in his head, took advantage of a shut-down public school system, a team of experienced educators who had stayed despite nearly all campuses being destroyed or damaged, and used their collective knowledge of the law to open a group of charter schools in Algiers.
As founding Chief Executive Officer of the Algiers Charter Schools Association, a group of five and then nine schools welcomed any K-12 kid brave enough to return to Orleans Parish in August, 2005. Eventually, this encouraged other talented, experienced Orleans educators to return and mimic the Algiers example on the east bank, starting an organization known as the Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools and the special education center (SUNS) under Riedlinger’s tutelage.
Today, nearly all the schools he was associated with “re-imagining” as charter schools in a failing district are not only open, but listed as some of the top academically performing public schools in the State of Louisiana.
By 2008, Dr. Riedlinger’s attention was back full-time to the organization he and his colleagues founded: The School Leadership Center, preparing school leaders to survive in what was rapidly becoming the first all-charter urban public-school district in the nation.
To that end, he has helped train over 300 school leaders and well over 800 educators in various programs for any greater New Orleans area public, private or parochial school. More than 30 of SLC's Fellows, or program ‘graduates’, serve as school superintendents.
Brian is quick to point out that those involved in his success story, besides his family, church and the educators he has worked along throughout his career, are the Baptist Community Ministries (BCM), which helped him found SLC in 1997; Xavier University and the University of New Orleans; education reformers like the late Dr. Everett Williams, Mary Zervigon, Dr. Rodney Lafon and SLC Chair Dr. Byron Harrell, fellow charter advocate Dr. Rose Peterson and Kathy Kilgore as well as his Algiers Charter School second in command - Kevin Guitterez, now running ReNew charters.
Dr. Riedlinger is calling all those who have an experience in school reform and management, as well as professional development, to investigate the job opening he is now trying to fill: His replacement. The job posting is listed at slc-gno.org and candidates can apply until March 23.