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Rookie of the Year Award Winners Share Their Success Secrets

This month, Success Academy welcomed more than 500 new teachers to our network of schools. We cannot wait to see what they will accomplish! There’s no one secret to becoming a great teacher, but there are plenty of things that new teachers can do to get off on the right foot. With that in mind, we asked some of our top second-year educators to share some guidance for new teachers getting ready to step into their classrooms for the first time.

Each teacher quoted was honored with an SA “Rookie of the Year” Excellence Award for going above and beyond as a freshman educator – we hope their reflections after a year of teaching can be valuable for new teachers, both at SA and across the country!

What’s one key to creating a great learning environment?

Muhammad Mughal, SA Springfield Gardens MS

Use good classroom management as a foundation for good scholar relationships, but don’t use good scholar relationships as a foundation for good classroom management.

Paige D’Angelo, SA Hell’s Kitchen

Take time to get to know all your students on both a personal and an academic level. The better you know them and their interests, the more intriguing and fun you can make learning for them.

Erin Bellucci, SA Fort Greene 

Plan your lessons as thoughtfully as possible to create the most meaningful and fun lessons. When you take your time to have a deep understanding of the objective or goal of a lesson, the outcome truly becomes more productive and positive. This includes using your resources! Connect with other teachers on the team and in the network for ideas and additional insights.

What’s something every new teacher should do?

Gillian Lavins, SA Harlem West

Keep time for yourself, hobbies, and mental health. I believe that I am a happier and more energized teacher because of the time I take to exercise and cook after work. The first year of teaching can be stressful at times, but always make time for what you love, besides teaching and your scholars. If you are struggling to find time for yourself, reach out to someone! The supportive leadership team is part of what makes SA so great!

Laureen Liang, SA Flatbush 

Bring your passion, bring your fire, and bring your love of people to the table. The first year is full of novel trials and challenges, but you can and you will come out of the other side stronger than ever and prove to yourself that you will get it done — and done well! — when you believe in the mission and have others who are supporting you in your collective goals along the way.

Isabelle Ferber, SA Harlem 5

Keep an open mind and an open heart. Your open mind is for feedback and being dedicated to lifelong learning. An open heart is for the families, scholars, and colleagues who are part of your village to help your scholars succeed. 

How do you manage the highs and lows of teaching?

Caroline Idrovo, SA Harlem 1

Working at Success can be challenging because excellence is the standard, but there is a strong mission behind that. Our work matters every single day! That is something that always inspired me to be better and stay motivated. It’s important to stay organized, be prepared at a high level, and keep an open mind to feedback so that you can be the best educator for your scholars.

Ben Marcus, SA Harlem North Central 

Set goals for how you can improve between each class! Consistent, small adjustments yield massive returns over time. In addition, the guidance and feedback of my team has made a world of difference in my recent growth as an educator — I feel like I improve every day.

Katie Ennis, SA Harlem 6

This job is tough — there are moments of disappointment, frustration, and stress. However, there are also so many more moments of happiness, joy, and pride. One big lesson that I’ve learned this year is to not let those negative moments dictate how you feel about yourself as a teacher. Start every class and every day with the mindset that you are a great teacher, you can do this, and that your scholars love you! It’s true, and this is the mindset that will get you through the year! 

Written by Success Academy July 12, 2021

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