Stories and insights on excellent education.
At the end of the school year, the 85 Success Academy educators who were recognized with a 2016 Excellence Award took a moment to reflect on their most memorable moments with students. Here are 12 moments that some of them said filled them with pride and joy. What were yours? Leave your thoughts in the comments section of this post.
Art Teacher, Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts
My best moments as a teacher by far are when my students coach and teach each other. I am especially fond of a memory at SA Crown Heights with a kindergarten class that was using paints. At one table, one of the students accidentally spilled the water cup, which soaked almost everyone's work. The students at the table, without so much as a sound, very quickly began to clean things up. One scholar went and got more water, another got new papers for each artist to start over, and a third got rags to wipe down the table and floor. When they went to start again, one of the scholars said, "Please be more careful. This is how you wash out your brush so the water doesn't tip over." I watched from the other side of the room beaming as students took full ownership over their learning, their studio, and were so incredibly kind to one another after this accident. Watching the students interact this way, I was filled to the brim with happiness and joy, and I also felt incredibly accomplished as a teacher for setting up a studio in which kindness, respect, and care are at the forefront of learning.
ELA Teacher, Success Academy Harlem Central
My favorite memory this year was when we were reading The Giver. Whenever we would finish the class read-alouds for the day, the scholars actually GROANED loudly and begged to read more. It was the most satisfying and memorable moment because I knew that the scholars had truly fallen in love with reading.
SETSS Teacher, Success Academy Springfield Gardens
I was reading with one of my kindergarten scholars who has a learning disability. She had been working all year long to achieve her goal of reading a Level D book. I asked her to read a book for me, and she did it flawlessly. When she was done, I told her to flip over the book. Her face lit up when she saw the "D" on the back. Even though she is a very shy and soft-spoken girl, she jumped up, grabbed the book, ran down the hallway and into her classroom waving the book in the air. She interrupted her teacher and the whole class, which is so unlike her, but she was just so overwhelmed with pride that she needed her teacher to know immediately. It brought tears to my eyes to see the joy in her face. It had taken a tremendous amount of effort to get her to this point and she was finally there!
Third Grade Teacher, Success Academy Crown Heights
One of my favorite memories is when some of our scholars went to see a University of Richmond basketball game at Barclays Center. The night before, I scrounged up every piece of Spider gear from my undergraduate days that I could find in my apartment. I had exactly enough T-shirts for each scholar. Even though some of the shirts made it to their knees, they left for the game beaming. During the game, my scholars even made it on the jumbotron. They were cheering and rooting for the University of Richmond! When we came back to school, they kept yelling, "WE won!" They couldn't stop talking about meeting WebstUR, our mascot, and how excited they were to be a Spider. It makes me proud that I can share my Spider pride, and empower them to feel like they are a part of the Richmond community.”
ELA Teacher, Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts
This year we read Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and I challenged my students to create “Black is Beautiful” projects. The projects allowed students to demonstrate the themes that they found particularly compelling in creative ways. Many of them chose to showcase their amazing talents. Some students performed interpretative dances while others created music videos. It was great to see students use their wide range of talents to demonstrate their genuine love for literature!
Music Teacher, Success Academy Bergen Beach
My favorite memory this year was our Winter Performance. It was my first performance as a music teacher and the scholars' first performance as music students. There were many issues with lyrics and rhythm during rehearsals. But at the show itself, everything came together beautifully, and I was so proud of each and every one of my scholars. It was such a fulfilling moment as an educator.
SETTS Teacher, Success Academy Harlem 1
My favorite moment this year was when one of my scholars passed her first Math IA. She was a second grader who started at Success Academy later in the school year and could not count past 20 without making a mistake. We both cried when we found out how far she had come along!
Science Teacher, Success Academy Bensonhurst
I invited a geologist to speak to my second graders during our unit on rocks and minerals. The kids loved it! They were so excited to use her tools and examine all of her wonderful samples. They were asking amazingly intelligent questions. Afterward, she told me that she was very impressed with them. Hearing her say that made me smile and validated everything I was doing with them in the classroom.
First Grade Teacher, Success Academy Harlem 3 Lower
During our Arctic PBL unit, I invited parents to visit our classroom, which my students had set up like a museum. It was such an amazing display of their effort and passion for protecting the environment. It was also just a lot of fun. The scholars greeted visitors at the door, encouraging them to zip up their coats for the cold Arctic. Each student had a station and talked passionately about what people can do to protect the Arctic. Hearing every scholar speak eloquently about what they had learned made me so proud. I can't wait for our museum this year!
Math Teacher, Success Academy Bronx 1 Middle School
One of my favorite moments from the year was playing Ed Sheeran’s song, “Thinking Out Loud,” every day to help my students relax and focus before the state tests. At first, my students complained about the song, but on the last day before the tests, the entire class spontaneously started ballroom dancing and singing at the top of their lungs.
Third Grade ICT Teacher, Success Academy Bed Stuy 1
My favorite memory always occurs during the NYC Subway System PBL unit. This year, my scholars were extremely passionate about discovering and sharing facts about the subway. We visited the Myrtle-Willoughby station, and the excitement on their faces to see the trains go by (even though many of them see them every day) gave me the chills! They were cheering and clapping for the subway with the biggest smiles on their faces. They couldn't stop smiling when the train operator waved and smiled at them.
Third Grade Teacher, Success Academy Bronx 3 Upper
One of my favorite memories was seeing one of my kids who has struggled all year in math pass the state math practice assessment. The class erupted into cheers and applause when he shared the news with the class. I will never forget how happy he felt and how proud his classmates were of him.