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“This is going to be the best year of my life!”

Last week, hundreds of charter school parents gathered in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza to advocate for educational equality across the city. Cynthia Cummings, a parent at Success Academy Bed Stuy 1 and Success Academy Bed Stuy Middle School, was one of those parents. Here is her story:

Good morning. I’m here today because I know just how a big difference great teachers and a love for learning can make in a child’s life. And that’s what public charter schools offer!

When I was 10 years old, I moved from Monrovia, Liberia in West Africa, to Brooklyn. I faced many huge changes, but one of the biggest was going to school.  On my first day, I walked into a classroom for the first time in my life. The teacher asked me to read something in front of the entire class. I was silent and scared. I couldn’t read, and I started to cry.

The teacher yelled at me: “What’s wrong with you? Just read!”

I will never forget that moment.

But I will also never forget what happened next. Another teacher saw what happened and took me under her wing. She worked with me whenever she could. With her help, I learned to read and I began to love learning.

When it came time to send my own children to school, I thought back to that second teacher and how she saw me — as full of potential.

So I searched until I found a school that saw kids the same way: Success Academy.

It was the right choice. My children are thriving. Kevin is in sixth grade. He’s a star computer programmer and an artist. Kelsey is a fourth grader, and she’s an artist too…and a budding mathematician. Both of them love science so much that they do projects at home. Every time I speak with their teachers or go over their homework, it becomes even more obvious to me that my children are getting the education they deserve.

This year, something wonderful happened on the first day of school. I set an alarm, but the kids were up and dressed before it went off. I asked them, “Why are you up so early?” Kelsey responded, “Mom, it’s the first day of school! I can’t wait to see what I will learn in fourth grade! This is going to be the best year of my life!”

That is the feeling that Success Academy gives kids.

All kids deserve that feeling. All kids deserve a great education. Without it, they will never reach their potential. Without great teachers like the one who taught me to read, or the ones at Success Academy who inspire my children, kids can’t succeed. Not learning to read or do math, to write or draw or dance — this is tragic for a child. Yet it is happening all across New York City. More parents like me need to be able to send their kids to great schools with great teachers…because they give our kids a chance.

Without great teachers like the one who taught me to read, or the ones at Success Academy who inspire my children, kids can’t succeed.

And that’s why I’m here today — because we need our elected officials to give our kids a chance.

That means giving charter schools the resources and support they need to expand. It means getting thousands of kids off charter school waitlists and into world-class public charter schools.

I am so thankful to everyone standing with us here today. Together, we will make great schools a reality for all kids.

Written by Cynthia Cummings October 25, 2017

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