Amazing things happen every day inside Success Academy’s classrooms. Working in schools can be challenging, but there are always experiences that make the hard work worthwhile. Our teachers focus intensely on creating a perfect learning environment — planting the seeds and providing all the ingredients for our scholars to blossom intellectually, socially, and emotionally. To get a lens into the magic that happens inside our schools, we asked SA Excellence Award winners, SA school staff honored for going above and beyond, to share some of the proudest moments of their careers. Whether they connected with an individual scholar, made an impact on a whole classroom, or found meaningful opportunities for personal growth, everybody we asked had a special memory to share:
I’m particularly proud of my work with one scholar in reading. At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, this scholar was unable to read at all. Through the year I worked with them and their family to create a culture of reading. Now, they are reading above grade level and love to read in class and independently. Being able to foster a love of reading for this scholar and for my class community brings me such joy!
— Erin Bellucci, 2nd grade teacher, SA Fort Greene
My proudest moment was when a child that hated school and cried every morning suddenly started loving being dropped off because he got to spend the day with me.
— Jordana Cheirif, 1st grade teacher, SA Upper West
I had a student who was incredibly smart; wise beyond his years but a behavioral outlier due to a variety of compounding factors. He was really struggling and was at risk of being held back. I saw his potential and I reached out to him; we started to meet weekly for history check-ins and his grades quickly improved. I would often tell him how proud of him I was but one day he said to me, “Thank you for believing in me, Ms. Sinclair. It means a lot.” I always knew the impact I could have on my students as a teacher but I never really internalized it — at this moment I felt incredibly proud of my student but also of my role as an educator. I am both lucky and proud every day to work at SA.
— Maya Sinclair, 6th grade teacher, SA Harlem East
As educators, we have the opportunity to plant seeds within our youth every day. My proudest moment at SA was listening to and watching my scholars discuss the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. The work that I did to create a safe classroom where scholars can be unapologetically themselves reigned true when my diverse classroom shared experience, knowledge, and support with their classmates.
— Kollyn-Marya Coleman, 4th grade lead teacher, SA Cobble Hill
Before coming to SA Springfield Gardens MS, I spent three years at SA Rosedale. When I first got to Rosedale the chess program was not in the best shape. Our chess team was ranked in the bottom half of the network. As opposed to immediately drilling chess, I began building relationships with the community as a means of growing the chess program. Seamlessly, Rosedale became ranked in the top half of the network. The scholars and parents invested in the chess program, made this possible through their hard work, and put their trust in me to guide them.
— Rey Ramos, chess teacher, SA Springfield Gardens MS
One of my proudest moments as an SA teacher came late in my first year when in class I was able to foster not only a whole-class discussion, but an argument on how to classify certain types of quadrilaterals using formal logical statements. To see 9th graders argue with such genuine passion about a subject that many others would consider a low point of freshman-year geometry was the type of authentic engagement we seek to cultivate in our classrooms.
— Alexander Bartholomew, math teacher, HSLA-Manhattan
One of many proud moments I could recall is reading Brown Girl Dreaming with scholars. After we read the book and completed a writing assessment, scholars did a creative writing piece where they mirrored Jacquline Woodson’s poetic style and wrote about the issues they are facing or seeing in their community. I was proud to see their courage and boldness in expressing their thoughts and feelings. Several scholars wrote pieces addressing their “blackness” and what it meant for them to grow up as young black and brown kids in NYC. It made me excited to see them so inspired by the book and class discussions.
— Andre Samuels, 7th grade teacher, SA Lafayette MS