When I finally decided which school was the best fit for my son Jericho, it felt like magic. For months, my wife and I asked ourselves what seemed like a million, overwhelming questions: Does this school have a strong academic program? What co-curriculars do they offer? How far are we willing to commute? We were unimpressed with our zoned school and turned to our friends for guidance. A number of them had children at Success Academy and told us about the schools’ high standards and amazing results. Encouraged, I signed up for the open house and decided to enter Jericho in the SA lottery. Perfect! I thought as I scrolled through SA’s various locations online. There’s a Success Academy location in Hell’s Kitchen, just a block away from where we live. Impressed with SA Hell’s Kitchen after the open house, I was convinced SA Hell’s Kitchen was our match-made in heaven.
There was a problem, however. When we received our lottery results, we discovered Jericho was not accepted. Instead, he was given a seat at SA Hudson Yards, which we had ranked as our second choice school when we entered the lottery.
My wife and I were taken aback. We had our hearts set on SA Hell’s Kitchen — how could we put our son in a school we hadn’t visited and didn’t know as well? What were the academics and co-curriculars like there? To further complicate our decision, we’d moved to Queens. We’d rationalized that we wouldn’t have minded commuting for SA Hell’s Kitchen since we were aware of the quality of the school. Now would the long commute to SA Hudson Yards be worth it?
Troubled, we found ourselves reconsidering altogether.
We thought back to the programs, curriculum, and results that we’d come across in our research: these standards were not specific to any SA school, but reflected SA as a whole. I remembered seeing SA scholars from all over NYC, and even overheard a few excitedly discuss the latest book they were reading. Many of our friends attended different locations, but still talked about how much their kids loved school. We decided that we would adjust our lifestyles to make sure Jericho experienced these learning opportunities. We took a chance and enrolled Jericho at SA Hudson Yards.
To say the decision has been worth it would be an understatement. SA really does implement the same school design and standards citywide: At family gatherings, I watch as Jericho and his cousin (also in the second grade but attending SA Hell’s Kitchen) excitedly discuss the books they’re reading and the projects they’re working on. And we’ve adjusted to the commute, and it’s been easier than expected: coordinating dinners, bedtime, and a morning schedule for the entire family.
Jericho blows me away — we can’t get enough of hearing him say that every subject in school is his “favorite” subject and seeing the astonished look on his older sister’s face when she sees the advanced subject material he’s grasping at such a young age. Not only does he come home every day excited about school, but he also received a little taste of YouTube fame for the videos he created for one his science projects on narwhals and the northern cardinal! It’s just one way that the school community we’ve found at Success encourages Jericho to express himself creatively and apply his interests to learning.
I understand why parents might be hesitant to enroll their child in their second choice school, whether it’s because they’re unsure of the school’s program or because it’s a longer commute from home. Success Academy designed its programs for all of its schools, however, not just some of them. I also can’t blame parents for making decisions about their child’s school based on their commute or work schedule. That’s up to each family to decide what’s best for them. For my family, however, the benefits of an education at SA outweighed the small adjustments we needed to make. A quality education is the greatest treasure I can give my child, and I’ll continue to do all I can to give him one.