The New York-based Success Academy was founded just over a decade ago with a mission of providing an excellent and free public education to children regardless of their background.
In the 11 years since then, not only has Success Academy provided students with an education that has seen many of them testing at much higher levels than students from affluent districts, it has also avoided creating the same problems public schools often have.
How has it done that?
The way Success Academy teaches its children — Success Academy teaches its children that education is fun, and it makes it fun.
At the same time, it also concentrates on teaching critical thinking skills in an environment that demands discipline, hard work, the ability to follow rules, and a strict dress code.
What that means is Success Academy has been able to make an odd mix of strict rules and fun actually work for them. They have done this by engaging their students, allowing them to learn from hands on work and project learning rather than teacher-led activities, while still demanding hard work and good morals.
This has helped them avoid the same problems public schools usually have as that mix of rules and fun tends to make students feel cared about, and is if the school and the teachers think they are worth something.
Involving parents — Success Academy also mandates that the parents of their children are actively involved in their school life.
Whether that means attending parent teacher meetings, sitting on the parent board, volunteering to be a chaperone for a school field trip to a science museum or simply helping their child with their homework every day — it does not matter. As long as they remain actively involved.
Children whose parents are involved in their schooling tend to do better than those that are not. In many public schools, though, parents have little or no involvement in their child’s education. That lack of involvement often leaves the child thinking “If they do not care, then why should I?”
At Success Academy schools, however, students know their parents care about their education, and so they do as well.