Is there life beyond Success Academy? Yes, there is. I experienced it, and I’m here to tell you that I’m so glad to be back! Truly, there’s no place quite like SA, for both educators and scholars.
When COVID-19 hit, I — like so many other people — took a step back to reflect on my life and career. I loved my job. SA was where I began my career, developed as a professional, and learned to be an educator. I was an assistant principal at Success Academy Myrtle, and had spent more than seven years in a variety of teaching roles across several SA schools. But I decided it was time for me to explore other opportunities outside of Success Academy.
Ultimately, I joined another charter school. I wanted to see what was possible elsewhere. However, what I learned in the year that followed made me realize that I had no choice but to return. There were so many ways the other school didn’t measure up, but there were a few that really hit home.
A core tenet of the charter school movement is a belief that all kids are capable of achieving, regardless of their socioeconomic status or where they come from. At SA, we are truly delivering on that belief! We are providing a blueprint for the rest of the country.
We are constantly raising the bar on what we want to achieve. We aren’t satisfied with our successes; we are focused on doing better by our kids. We innovate and explore new ideas and techniques — from concepts around pedagogy and instruction, to books like The Culture Code or articles from the Harvard Business Review. SA trains us in leadership — skills that are invaluable and transferable.
My experience opened my eyes to the need for good communication in education — both between teachers and kids and the school and families. At SA, we are precise and clear about how we speak to our scholars and set goals and expectations. It’s the key to ensuring we’re all on the same page so we can achieve our shared goals for kids.
We prepare our kids to live in the modern, connected world. SA is an almost fully digital institution, where every kid gets their own Chromebook to do their work, and teachers have access to technology and automation that allows us to efficiently get things done, from outreach to scholars and families to creating real-time reports on school-level data. I didn’t have that at the other charter.
Then, of course, there’s the SA Operations team — the true heartbeat of our schools. They’re extremely responsive to the needs of both families and teachers — ready to jump in and take care of all of the nuances that make the school operate, so teachers, assistant principals, and senior leaders can focus on nurturing and educating the kids.
Success also has a really clear career path for teachers to move into team lead roles and then into school leadership positions. The professional development is far and away stronger at Success Academy. With the level of support and training we’re provided, it’s easy to understand what’s possible and the opportunities for professional growth. I wouldn’t trade my time away from SA. It was a valuable experience that helped me understand what I want in my career. I started out wanting to see what was possible elsewhere, but the experience opened my eyes to what I now believe is only possible here. The longer I was away, the more apparent it became: Success Academy is a cut above the rest.
And I came back at the best time! This year we’ve renewed our focus on preparing kids for the future — to succeed in college and beyond. We’re working tirelessly to improve the learning environment, to develop autonomous, self-assured, sophisticated thinkers, and that starts with me being the best teacher and leader that I can be. I’m so glad to be back!
Adam Rosenberg is an assistant principal at SA Bed-Stuy Middle School.