Success Academy reopened its doors to scholars across the city in August, safely ushering students back into the classroom after an unprecedented 2020-21 school year. To keep our scholars safe — and learning — it’s more important than ever that we work together with families and guardians to ensure everyone in our community is on the same page. We prioritize open lines of communication and are excited to hear from SA Fort Greene parent Ricardo St. Hilaire about how the return to on-campus learning has gone so far for his fourth-grade daughter Neela.
By Ricardo St. Hilaire
My wife Alicia and I are extremely hands-on when it comes to our children’s education. Despite the pandemic, we were actually looking forward to sending our daughter, Neela, back to school in person. Our daughter shared the same sentiment.
Everyone loves a challenge, especially Neela. She knew how much her school and the state were doing to make sure things were safe, and that gave her the courage and enthusiasm to conquer any and every challenge SA or the year had to offer no matter what.
Smiles & Social Interactions
Neela started as a new SA scholar during the pandemic and hadn’t experienced SA in person.
In her first year, she became very comfortable being home while having access to mom, dad, and her big brother. Initially, her mood was uneasy and her attitude was a little uncooperative about the idea of returning, but she was so excited to meet her teacher. Things quickly changed after the first week of school, as she was reminded of the joy and fun that comes with being back in person.
Neela is more focused and energized now that she’s back into the routine of things — waking up early, commuting to school, being amongst her peers. The sense of normalcy in her everyday life has brought back that spark in her eyes for learning.
Meeting her teacher and classmates at SA for the first time in person made her smile. I can see that those positive emotions build her confidence and expand her view of learning. I realized my daughter was happier when she got to be with her friends and teachers — and happy children learn better.
The physical and social interaction for the kids is so crucial for their mental health, and it’s the best part of returning to school. For them to reconnect with friends they haven’t seen, and do certain activities they’re not able to do remotely, those are some of the most important things in life.
My daughter enjoys expressing herself through art. It allows her to elevate herself mentally and creatively, whether she’s creating collages or abstract paintings. Her art pieces are always amazing! Plus, she’s been crazy about chess club. Both of these hobbies require deep thinking and planning, and they are more engaging for her this year in an in-person, hands-on environment.
We naturally had some second thoughts about sending her back in person, but we’re a resilient family. So far, it’s been a great decision. What I do miss about remote learning is how much time I was able to spend with my daughter, but that’s pretty much it.
Safety and Responsiveness
Now that schools are open again, I am comfortable with the safety protocols the school has in place. My wife and I both trust the process: washing hands, practicing social distancing, wearing masks properly, and — last but very much not least — being vaccinated. Although these standards cannot be 100 percent effective, they play a major role in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. We as parents must teach our children to be proactive, optimistic, courageous, resilient, forward-thinking individuals, and even returning to school is an opportunity to show that we will prevail no matter what.
I think Success did the best job that they could. When the pandemic hit us, everyone had to adjust everything, the situation was constantly changing, new variants were emerging. I think the school did a great job adjusting to the times as they were rapidly shifting. I am just happy to be a parent that has a child going to Success Academy.
Pictured Above: SA parent Ricardo St. Hilaire talks about teaching children to be proactive, optimistic, and courageous.