Two Success Academy Schools Receive Prestigious National Blue Ribbon Awards
Success Academy – September 29, 2016
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016**
TWO SUCCESS ACADEMY SCHOOLS RECEIVE PRESTIGIOUS NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON AWARDS
Four Network Schools in Four Years Have Earned the Honor, Proving Educational Excellence Can Be Scaled
New York, NY — U.S. Secretary of Education John King announced yesterday that Success Academy Harlem 4 and Success Academy Bronx 1 have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools, a distinction granted to only 329 of the nation’s 130,000 public and private schools.
SA Harlem 4 and SA Bronx 1 were selected based on exceptional student performance that far exceeds traditional expectations about what children in low-income neighborhoods of color can achieve. In fact, these schools turned generations-old achievement gaps upside down. Their students read, write, and reason at higher levels than their peers in some of the state’s wealthiest enclaves, such as the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the suburb of Scarsdale.
“Principal William Loskoch at SA Harlem 4 and Principal Elizabeth Vandlik at SA Bronx 1 have created joyful oases of learning in neighborhoods that were once educational deserts,” said Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz. “This award is a testament to their extraordinary work, their talented teachers, and their supportive families. It’s also the latest proof that great schools can be scaled up quickly, in the best interests of kids — if there is the political will to do so.”
SA Harlem 4’s students are 98% minority and 81% come from low-income households. The school became just the third public school in Harlem to win the award in the past 25 years. The other two? They’re also part of Success Academy: SA Harlem 1 was selected in 2012 and SA Harlem 3 in 2015. The network will open a sixth Harlem elementary school in August 2017.
SA Bronx 1 is the first ever non-selective public school in its neighborhood — the heart of the South Bronx, part of the nation’s poorest Congressional district — to receive the honor. About 9 out of 10 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Their families speak seven different languages, including Creole and Spanish, reflecting the area’s African and Latino roots.
At both schools, 99% of students met rigorous Common Core state standards in math in 2016. SA Bronx 1 ranked #5 in all of New York State out of more than 3,500 public schools, while SA Harlem 4 ranked #9. Both schools also ranked in the top 2% of all public schools in the state in English Language Arts.
Crucially, these Success schools provide a lifeline for children with disabilities who are often left behind by the failing district schools in their neighborhoods. Every child with special needs at both SA Bronx 1 and SA Harlem 4 passed the state math exam — compared to 11% of children with disabilities citywide. And while fewer than 1 in 10 city students with disabilities met state standards in English Language Arts, SA Bronx 1 helped 56% of them do so while the rate was a remarkable 72% at SA Harlem 4.
A deep sense of community distinguishes both schools and helps children fall in love with learning. For example, the Buddy Program for reading at SA Harlem 4 pairs older students (who practice leadership) with younger children (who improve their skills). At SA Bronx 1, you might walk in to find children wearing top hats on Fancy Schmancy Day — one of many joyful spirit days.
Both schools are also well-known for helping children discover their passions and deepen their talents. For example, all students learn chess as part of the regular curriculum and many play competitively. At the state championship tournament in Saratoga Springs, the SA Bronx 1 team won first place in its division and an SA Harlem 4 first grader went undefeated to win the state title for grades K-1. Students also participate in diverse arts, music, dance, and sports programs — including a unique European-style soccer club.
“This award highlights how much children from all backgrounds can achieve when they are inspired to work hard, their teachers are dedicated to improving every day, and their parents are deeply invested in their learning. Congratulations to all of the Harlem 4 community!” said Principal William Loskoch. A graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Loskoch joined Success Academy as a leadership resident in 2011 before becoming principal of SA Harlem 4. He holds a certificate in school leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
“I’m incredibly proud of the scholars, parents, teachers, and staff at SA Bronx 1. We’re honored to be recognized for the way we pursue extraordinary academic rigor as one family, and at the same time help children discover their passions and grow as citizens,” said Principal Elizabeth Vandlik. Ms. Vandlik began her career at a district elementary school in the Bronx before teaching kindergarten and fourth grade at SA Harlem 1, and then moving into school leadership at SA Bronx 1. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and also holds a master’s in education.
SA Harlem 4 opened in 2008 and SA Bronx 1 opened in 2010. They are among 29 Success Academy elementary schools that serve children in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Success Academy schools share a progressive, child-centered approach that fosters a love of learning at an early age by providing young scholars with high-quality children’s literature and a well-rounded curriculum that includes reading, writing, math, and project-based learning, as well as science five days a week starting in kindergarten. Scholars also learn chess, visual arts, music, sports, and dance.
Thousands of educators, government officials, and policymakers from across the country and around the world have traveled to New York to attend Success Academy workshops and conferences or to tour a school. It was in response to educators’ requests that Eva Moskowitz wrote Mission Possible: How the Secrets of Success Academies Can Work in Any School with Arin Lavinia, in 2012. More recently, Success Academy launched virtual tours that take viewers inside classrooms while detailing the curriculum, philosophy, and key aspects of its results-driven elementary and middle school designs.
ABOUT NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS
The U.S. Department of Education’s annual National Blue Ribbon Schools Award recognizes outstanding public and non-public schools, acknowledging and validating the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for—and attaining—exemplary achievement. Nominated by their state departments of education, National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models for other schools throughout the nation, and school personnel are often sought out as mentors. Winning schools are honored at an annual awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C. Each school receives an engraved plaque and program flag with the official seal, which signifies its status and the year of its award.
In identifying outstanding schools annually, the program celebrates some of the most skilled and effective educators in the country. Their leaders not only articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards, they stay close to the real action of teaching and learning. Faculty are supported by mentoring and professional development and have time to coordinate their work. Data from many sources drive adaptations to support every student. Families and educators work together in trust. Using standards of excellence evidenced by student achievement measures and research-based indicators of school quality, the department honors high-performing schools and schools that are making great strides in closing any achievement gaps among student groups.
ABOUT SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOLS
Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K-12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 41 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 14,000 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 77% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 95% are children of color, 12% are children with disabilities, and 8.5% are English language learners. Ranked in the top 1% in math and the top 1.5% in English on 2016 state proficiency tests, Success Academy schools received more than 20,000 applications for about 3,200 open seats this year.