Former New York City councilwoman Eva Moskowitz always knew education in the city could be improved so, in 2006, she founded Success Academy, a charter school network that now has 41 schools.
In the 11 years since its inception, Success Academy has grown to serve over 14,000 New York city students from pre-kindergarten age all the way through to the end of high school. Most are children of color and most are from low-income backgrounds. Their education is completely free.
During that same time, the organization has also redefined what education should be.
How Success Academy is redefining what education should be — Success Academy’s students are taught differently than students in most other schools in the city.
In elementary school, an emphasis is placed on reading, writing, science and math, with the arts, hands on learning, collaborative group work and critical thinking being equally important.
By the time Success Academy students reach middle school, they are also expected to choose from a variety of electives that will help their creativity. These electives include things like chess, dance, debate, photography, business skills and sports.
In high school, Success Academy students are prepared for the rigors of a four-year college. Critical thinking is emphasized, as is academic writing, problem solving and hard work.
At the same time, at every level of schooling, education is looked at as being fun and children are taught to see it as such. Due to this, attendance at Success Academy schools tends to be high, and students are seen to love going to school.
Students are also taught that, if they fail, there is nothing terrible about that. Not if they pick themselves up and try again.
Success Academy successes — Due to the way students are taught, and how education is viewed, Success Academy elementary and middle schools are in the 90th percentile in all of New York state.
Hispanic and African American students at Success Academy schools outperform white students from around the state in English, math and science, and students excel in electives in everything from debate to dance, chess to sports.
No wonder many charter school networks around America are now asking for Success Academy’s curriculum and teaching philosophies, so they can implement them in their own schools.