by C.C. Campbell-Rock

The Dr. John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy at the John Martyn Campus (DJOD) opens its doors in August 2021 to 700 Pre-K through sixth grade students. The state of the art facility will offer a 21st Century STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and much more.

The school is named after the late Dr. John Ochsner, a world-renowned cardiologist and son of Dr. Alton Ochsner, founder of the Ochsner Health System.  

“Ochsner is committed to investing in the communities we serve and creating partnerships that help educate students who may become the next generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals,” said Warner Thomas, President & CEO of the Ochsner Health System.

According to the Louisiana STEM Initiative, over the next 12 years, Louisiana and the nation will see a surge in the number of job opportunities available in the fields of STEM.  However, only 10% of Louisiana students met the STEM benchmark demonstrating their readiness for math and science coursework in college. 

The dismal statistic makes the DJOD a necessary imperative for boosting the number of STEM educated students.

They will be able to take advantage of 21st careers in STEM.

The DJOD is a public charter school. It is being built at 1108 Shrewsbury Road on the historic site of the John H. Martyn High School. Martyn was one of the first black educators in Kenner.

Before being named for Martyn, the school was called the Shrewsbury School. Its’ mission was to educate “the colored children” of Shrewsbury. During the 19th century Shrewsbury was a town in unincorporated Jefferson, LA. Today it is known as the Shrewsbury community.

To honor legacy of John Martyn, the entryway to the new school features a “Wall of Accomplishments”. Brick from the original campus adorns the entry. And memorabilia from John Martyn alongside art and recognition of current students completes the entry .

Patty Glasser CEO Discovery Schools

“We are partnering with Ochsner so that together we can offer even more students the opportunity to attend a high-quality, open-enrollment school,” explains Dr. Patty Glaser, Head of School & CEO of Discovery Schools. “With over 1,000 families on our wait list, we are eager to grow so we can meet the needs of this community.”


Aside from STEM education, DJOD focuses on providing a school culture that emphasizes:

  • Wellness
  •  healthy lifestyle choice
  • character building
  • social skills development
  • positive reinforcement
  • restorative justice
  • and conflict resolution skills.
Nikisha Kelly- School Principal

“Our hope is for our students to access science, technology and wellness and transition those lessons from the classroom to daily lives,” says DJOD Principal Nikisha Kelly, M.ED.

The school will also have a culinary garden and an outdoor kitchen to facilitate healthy eating choices.

The school’s core values are the “HEART” standards. Infused into the school’s academic curriculum, “HEART is the standard we use for character building,” Kelly explains. HEART is an acronym for Honor, Endurance, Academic Achievement, Responsibility, and Tolerance.

 “We are teaching students at an early age what it means to show kindness and empathy. In teaching tolerance, “We teach students to understand that we’re all different, our school is very diverse, and we’re not all the same but that  everyone deserves respect,” Kelly continues. The school will also operate a DARE program, to teach drug awareness and avoidance to students.

The DJOD’s curriculum also includes the arts. “There will be a band room, theater, and art gallery,” adds Glaser, who knows the value of an arts curriculum. “I’ve run arts schools,” she explains.  

“We will bring in a theater and drama teacher, a STEAM specialist, music teacher, ballet instructor, and we will  teach healthy choices from the garden to the kitchen,” Kelly confirms. The school is also hiring extra personnel to help the teachers.

Virtual for now

DJOD is currently operating virtually but hopes to return to in school instruction when it is safe to do so. When school is back on the site, students will have access to football, soccer, baseball, track, swimming, African drumming, Chess, Zomba lessons and wrap around services, including counseling. “Discovery is a part of a large counseling staff,” Glaser affirms. Currently, parents can participate in Tuesday sessions with counseling staff.

The school opened in August of 2020 (grades K-4) at an interim location at 2012 Jefferson Highway.  In August 2021, the school will transition to its permanent new campus on Shrewsbury Road. In 2022 and 2023, the school adds grades Pre-K-7 and preK-8, respectively. 

Half of the open seats are designated for children residing in Jefferson Parish. The remaining half are reserved for children of Ochsner employees living in Jefferson Parish.

 The school is accepting student enrollment applications online until 10 AM on February 5th for the 2021-2022 academic year. Admissions are based on a transparent lottery system, not admissions testing. Interested persons can apply at www.discoveryapplication.com.

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