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Nine Bed-Stuy Educators Receive NYC Excellence Awards


Gavriel Remz, 617-642-4069

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Nicole Sizemore, 718-612-1429

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Success Academy recognizes outstanding educators at four Bed-Stuy schools with network-wide awards

New York —  Johanna Umpierre is a woman of many roles. At times she’s an acting coach, guiding scholars at Success Academy Bed-Stuy 1 in performances of Annie and Jungle Book for Kids. In other cases, she’s a community organizer, bringing together families to celebrate student achievements. But when she’s not inspiring children on stage or strengthening her community, Johanna Umpierre is in the classroom, where she is an exceptional science teacher. In fact, last year, every single one of her students scored at the highest possible level on the state science exams.

So it’s no surprise that Ms. Umpierre has been honored as a Success Academy Excellence award winner along with eight other educators in Bed-Stuy.

“I have always gotten a lot of joy and satisfaction out of sharing what I know with children and giving them opportunities to discover ideas and encounter new experiences,” Ms. Umpierre said. “Teaching young children means that your days are always filled with challenges, surprises, and love.”

Every year, the Success Academy Charter Schools network honors a select group of educators out of its nearly 2,000 staff members at 41 schools. Across the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, 102 educators won the award this year for their exceptional work and dedication to providing scholars with a high-quality education.

With the Success Academy Bed-Stuy community growing at a rapid rate, the number of outstanding educators is on the rise as well, with nine winners across four schools. Success Academy schools in Bed-Stuy are some of the highest performing in the state. For instance, SA Bed-Stuy 1 was one of the top five schools in all of New York State in both math and English last year, while the third grade class at SA Bed-Stuy 2 tied for first in math.

Winners — not just teachers —  discussed what the honor and their work means to the Bed-Stuy community.

“For me, excellence in education is achieved when children are given the tools they need to have a career — not just a job,” said Ashley Wilson, an operations manager at SA Bed-Stuy 2. “Excellence in education is directly correlated with breaking the cycle of poverty.”

Others noted the importance of working with kids not just to master the material in the classroom, but to help them grow as individuals.

“We are working to ensure that every kid meets his or her highest potential 100% of the time,” said Patrick Salazar, a 5th grade English teacher at SA Bed-Stuy Middle School. "Education is not just teaching math or English in the classroom for a part of the day, but also working to help young people grow and mature in all aspects of their lives.”

Winners are selected from three categories:

  • The Academic Achievement Award, which honors the teachers who inspired their scholars to perform at the highest academic level across all 41 Success Academy schools.

  • The Teacher Growth Award, which is given to the teachers who have exhibited the most significant progress in achieving classroom-wide excellence since the start of the school year.

  • The ETHOS Award, which recognizes school staff who best demonstrate the Success community’s values: Excellence, Teamwork, Humor, Ownership, and Students.

The winners, by school are:

Success Academy Bed-Stuy 1:

  • Jessica Velasco, 1st grade ICT teacher, Academic Achievement

  • Rachel Jones, 1st grade ICT teacher, Academic Achievement

  • Johanna Umpierre, Science teacher, ETHOS

  • Lucero Villasis, 2nd grade teacher, Teacher Growth


Success Academy Bed-Stuy 2:

  • Ashley Wilson, Operations manager, ETHOS


Success Academy Bed-Stuy 3:

  • Frank Alesci, Soccer coach, ETHOS

  • Ania-Lisa Etienne, 1st grade ICT teacher, Teacher Growth


Success Academy Bed-Stuy Middle School:

  • Patrick Salazar, 5th grade English teacher, Academic Achievement

  • Kristin Jones, English teacher, Academic Achievement



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, 16% 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.

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