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I Am Not Naive About the School I Chose for My Kids

To Whom It May Concern,

Really, what’s the beef with Success? There are now countless articles bashing Success Academy and it seems so blindly skewed. I am truly shocked that the reputable NYT would print such spin! Because, surely, none of these articles fully grasp the environment at Success.

I am the mother of two scholars at Success Academy Williamsburg. Are they strict? Yes. Are there a lot of rules? Yes. Did it take my children and I months to adapt and to love it? Yes.  

As with any school, there are positives and negatives. My children left a local public school to join Success last August because they were unchallenged, and the school was extremely chaotic. There was a huge lack of communication between teachers and families, zero focus on positive reinforcement and social skills, and no celebration of effort. Success is the opposite — it has blown me away.

Every day, my children come home from school with stickers covering their faces and clothing for their awesome effort in class. And every day I learn about their academic progress and behavior from their teachers at pick-up. My kids are always giddy with excitement — no exaggeration. They can’t wait to tell me about how much they read and what they learned, or how hard they tried even when they couldn’t get the right answer in class. The amount my children have learned in the last several months eclipses what they have learned in their years at other schools.

I understand that the Times has heard some negative things and feels compelled to expose them. There are going to be bad apples anywhere. But these stories should not cast a shadow over the enormous accomplishments of this opportunity-changing network of schools. An entire generation of children in this city will have a sense of respect, confidence, self-awareness and drive — all because of Success.

An entire generation of children in this city will have a sense of respect, confidence, self-awareness and drive — all because of Success.

I also have a 12-year-old who struggles with emotional issues. I am not naive. I have run the gamut of schools from those that serve special needs students to swanky private schools and public schools. My daughter was shamed at an elite private school so many times that she has major trauma from her being “asked to leave.” I don’t see that school in the news. I have watched other children at public schools cry from being embarrassed, bullied, and unfairly compared to their peers. Yet Success is the only school the Times disparages.

As the mother of a child who struggles and as an advocate for parents of children who struggle, I know that not every school is the right fit for every kid. (I write about these experiences on my blog.) Success Academy would not work for my 12-year-old, but my younger two children are in heaven at Success. Finding the right educational fit for your kid is the parents’ job. Providing choices and real opportunity is the city’s job. And reporting all sides to the news is yours. Get rid of the beef, and get back to writing great news.

Thank you,
Amie Sepaniak
SA Williamsburg

Written by Amie Sepaniak March 4, 2016

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