Jamar McKneely

Jamar McKneely is CEO of InspireNOLA, a network of seven public charter schools in New Orleans that serves more than 5,000 students from Pre-K to 12th grade (90% of which are African American and 86% come from low-income families). Grounded in three pillars of inspiration, dedication and aspiration, InspireNOLA is one of the highest performing charter network organizations in New Orleans.

A foundational element of their success is Jamar McKneely’s leadership and vision. Jamar is serious about setting high expectations for his staff and students. He wants students to not only excel academically but to be true leaders in their communities. To that end he provides opportunities for students to engage on key issues. InspireNOLA also ensures students are exposed to collegiate opportunities. In fact, this fall they are holding a college fair for students featuring more than 60 colleges and universities. McKneely is also intentional about ensuring the teachers and leadership reflects his student body both racially and regionally. He suggests that nearly 60 to 70% of teachers are long-time residents of New Orleans. In 2013, McKneely founded the Alliance for Diversity and Excellence to advocate for charter schools and train and support people of color to become senior leaders in New Orleans schools.

McKneely has made a significant impact on the educational landscape of New Orleans and is still driven by his educational philosophy derived from Marian Wright Edelman’s significant quote: “The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.”

McNeely has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Southern University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Louisiana State University.

Do you have a Better Narratives story to share? We want to hear from you! Click here to submit a story.