Shea Blake is one of our most involved parents. Everybody at school knows him. He comes into the office every morning to talk to us. He takes the time to get to know the staff and the safety agents, and to make friends with other parents, even though he works two jobs and is raising two daughters on his own. We have a lot of respect for Mr. Blake, and I wanted to find out how he does it, why he chose Success, and what advice he has for other families.
Tell me about your two daughters — London and Synnai. London is in kindergarten. She just turned 6. She says she wants to be a doctor, but I think she might end up being a lawyer. She can be very argumentative. Synnai is in the first grade. She also talks about being a doctor. She wants to help people and sick kids. When she was younger, she was around doctors a lot. I think that’s why.
You’re a single parent. How do you manage to make time to be involved at school? Because I am a single parent, I have to be organized and plan ahead. It’s tough. I work night shifts for the Department of Sanitation, but I still bring my daughters to school every morning on time. When I wake up, I just do it, I don’t even think about it. I had good parents, and they taught me well. Then I go to my second job. I work at Home Depot during the day.
I know last December, you made arrangements to come to our Winter Performance show to see your daughters perform. Yes. It was a big deal. Everyone had been working very hard. The night before the show, I picked them up from school and drove them to the mall and bought them new dresses. The next day, I got out of work at 2:40pm. The performance started at 3pm. I was racing from Manhattan and tried my hardest to make it on time. When I arrived, the show was just ending and people were leaving. I’m not going to lie, I was upset.
What made you choose Success Academy Springfield Gardens? I was taking the girls to school in Brooklyn for three years, and the commute was killing me. We live in Queens. Something had to change. I wanted them to go to a good school closer to home. One day, God answered my prayers: A Success Academy recruiter visited my daughter’s daycare. I asked if they had a location in Queens. He said yes, and I applied.
What was your reaction when you learned that your daughters were accepted? I was extremely excited and happy. It was a sigh of relief — my children were coming out of a chaotic environment. I knew Success Academy would be a better place for them.
How are your daughters doing in school now? When it comes to reading, writing, and spelling, their enthusiasm for learning has honestly increased. Synnai is more confident in her reading abilities. Her confidence alone has soared. And that confidence will help her achieve whatever she wants to do in life. The best part of this whole experience has been watching their progress every day.
What would you say to other families who are thinking about applying to Success? Keep an open mind. You and your child will go through some bumps and bruises together. But that’s a good thing. At Success, you’re part of a community that will support your child through college. Be patient and don’t give up on the school just because you hear something that’s not music to your ears. Stay active and enjoy the ride.