Founder and Head of School
In 2015, Dr. Askew started a journey towards founding Élan. She spent two years canvassing Orleans to learn what our community wanted in a school. She traveled across the country visiting over 40 top performing charter schools to learn from leaders in education. With this research she wrote the charter application for Élan Academy and with the help of her team received a unanimous vote of approval from the Orleans Parish School Board. Élan Academy opened its doors in August 2017 to a small group of Kindergarten, First, and Second grade scholars. In 2019, just two years after opening, Élan Scholars scored in the top 10 of Orleans schools in math and reading. They also outperformed the state and city averages in all subjects.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell pictured with Dr. Askew at her
Élan school visit.
Our Founder and Head of School, Melanie Askew, is a dedicated educator who has spent the last ten years working and leading in education. Beginning as a research assistant in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt's Peabody College, Dr. Askew confronted the large disparities across special education and gifted education for students of color. With the drive to close those gaps for all children, she has worked as a founding teacher, instructional coach, curriculum content specialist, adjunct professor, and educational consultant. Dr. Askew has a Bachelor of Science in Human and Organizational Development, a Master of Education in Organizational Leadership, and a doctorate in Leadership and Learning in Organizations all from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College.
"I was raised by a hard-working single mother, who stressed the importance of education. Unfortunately, and over time, the schools in our community declined in performance. With the death of my father, I received Social Security checks which my mother used to pay my tuition to a private college preparatory high school. The timing of my father’s passing changed the course of my life. However, no parent should have to die for their child to attain an excellent education. The idea that luck, or in my case, tragedy, should determine the future of a child is not a part of the American Dream. All students deserve the right to a free quality education regardless of their race, zip code, and socioeconomic status. It’s about access to choice and high-quality options. Families and students deserve the right to choose their path, fulfill their potential, and embody their dreams - a poor education should not determine anyone’s life or anyone’s future."