There’s a reason it’s called “eye-opening”

Andrea Shepherd

Andrea Shepherd, (FL ’15) executive director, Colon Cancer Prevention Project

Sweetly scented air welcomed us as we entered Cochran Elementary School, a place dubbed “Old Louisville’s Elementary School” and nestled in a 115-year-old building on Gaulbert Ave. Next came smiling faces. Children lined in perfect rows. Books, puzzles, and flash cards. It all seemed so typical – except it wasn’t.

Cochran Elementary School is a changed school, we learned. In the last several years, it’s recruited strong teachers, set higher standards, and initiated mentoring partnerships with Manual High School and the University of Louisville. Cochran is forward thinking, too: It has a “sensory room” that uses lights, texture and scents to help students having a bad day.

The school once dubbed “poor Cochran” is no more.

My experience with Focus Louisville was a lot like this visit, which was part of our Friday morning agenda. In my decade of living in Louisville, I thought I had a good idea of the city’s rich history, arts scene, government, and neighborhoods.

But the idea in my head wasn’t exactly the truth. In a city that grows and evolves and touts itself as “possibility city,” there is always something new, something to learn.

For example, there is no need to feel sorry for Cochran Elementary, as so many have in the past. It is a changed school with a strong staff at its heart and pride pulsing down its halls. Two other groups toured Johnson Traditional Middle School and DuPont Manual High School and came back with similar stories.

“I’m so excited for the choices in schools that we have for our son,” I told my husband Brett that night as our 17-month-old pushed a toy firetruck across the floor.

Focus Louisville was an opportunity I’m thankful for. In just two and a half days, I met wonderful people, learned a wealth of knowledge from Metro Councilman (and ball of energy) Tom Owen, School superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens, and Police Chief Steve Conrad, among many others.

But Cochran will stick with me.

Thank you, Focus Louisville, for opening my eyes to so much in this ever-changing city.


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