At Success Academy, we consider scholar emotional and mental health just as important as academic achievement and the co-curricular development of talents and passions. The past few months have been especially tough for our scholars, who may be facing grief, anxiety, and uncertainty during COVID-19. This year, we have 56 mental health staff, who have all worked tirelessly to not only build a solid support system for our scholars, but also be there for them in moments of need. This is not an easy job, and their humility, tenacity, and hard work has helped our scholars thrive.
“I can say with confidence that Sarina is one of the most talented school psychs I have ever had the privilege of working with. She loves our students deeply, listening intently to them while also helping to develop plans for their success — whether that’s making homework or study schedules, or working on recognizing and moderating their emotions. She never misses an opportunity to think creatively, and has even started an anime club and created a “web series” for scholars to show them in their advisory block. Once, one of our scholars was teased for wearing a hijab to school. Sarina instinctively and immediately sought out the scholar and comforted her. Because of her own personal experience, she was able to connect with this scholar on a deep level, and help her take pride in her hijab!
Sarina also works tirelessly to support our staff, readily providing advice for them on how to work with our most struggling scholars. She checks in on our staff’s mental health, too, to ensure they’re able to serve at their best. Every member of the SA HNW community is better because of her work; we literally could not do our day-to-day work without her. The word rockstar does not even begin to describe her!” — Stephanie Blieka, Principal at SA Harlem North West
“Alyssa has truly been the MVP of the SA Lafayette Community and regularly goes Beyond Z for our families and staff. Last year, she led boys and girls lunch groups to make sure that all students felt supported. This year, she has taken on a multitude of roles; she is a leader on our equity team, she gives additional support to scholars with IEPs, and she provides our entire staff with weekly self-care tips to help us navigate the remote world. Alyssa always has a smile on her face and is willing to help everyone she meets. We appreciate everything she does for our community!” — Kristin Damo, Principal at SA Lafayette MS
“Monica is an invaluable resource for our leaders, teachers, parents, and especially our scholars. She has redefined how we think about self-care and scholar support. She’s not only incredibly warm and patient with our scholars, but she also believes deeply in their potential and has high expectations for them.
Monica always does more than what’s expected of her, working through the night or weekend on a particularly challenging case, or leading the initiative to help our high schoolers improve their work habits. She’s been integral to helping our scholars advocate for themselves personally and professionally, and finding their voice. We are better because of her!” — Dan Rojas, Principal at SA High School of the Liberal Arts
“Sarah approaches every situation, big or small, with the same high level of kindness and compassion. She has this uncanny ability to make whoever she is speaking with feel heard, appreciated, and cared for — regardless of if you are her first conversation of the day, or her tenth! If you want proof, just walk by her office door. Laughter and positivity seep out, and as scholars greet her, you can hear the joy in their voices, showing us just how much she loves what she does, and how much our scholars love her.
Sarah led the implementation of our Second Step Program, a curriculum for social emotional learning strategies for our scholars. Thanks to her hard work, we made this curriculum accessible in all of our classrooms. She also has the curiosity of a lifelong learner, consistently following up-to-date school psychology research, attending conferences, collaborating with other school psychologists, and truly pushing her own thinking. I am so thankful for her, and I know our school community is too!” — Regina Westlake, Principal at SA Upper West