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A School My Family Loves and Appreciates

When my husband and I were first considering Success Academy Union Square, we heard a lot that we liked. Our son, George, was entering first grade, and we were excited about the fast-paced curriculum with science every day, exposure to chess and the arts, and the emphasis on character education.

Though the school is just two years old, it has delivered on every promise. George is happy and thriving, as is his sister, Helen, who is in kindergarten. There are many great aspects to SA Union Square, but I especially appreciate the people who nurture our children’s hearts and minds.

All parents want their child to be a good student and a good person. That’s exactly the approach that Success Academy takes. Beginning in kindergarten, students are introduced to ACTION values. These are agency, curiosity, try and try, integrity, others, and no shortcuts. These are values we teach our children at home, and we are so grateful to the teachers for modeling and reinforcing them at school.

Our children have learned that simple actions such as greeting someone with a firm handshake and making eye contact demonstrate integrity and respect for others. They also have learned that hard work and perseverance can lead to success and that people notice when you do the right thing. My son feels motivated to show effort in school because it is one of the values recognized during weekly community circle meetings.

Families play an important role as well. We regularly participate in advocacy events that ensure our children will continue to receive the best education. Our family has marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, traveled to Albany, and rallied outside City Hall in support of our schools and to demand better schools for more families. On March 4, we will travel to Albany once again and join thousands of other families in support of our schools. I am so grateful for these opportunities, which allow our family to come together for an important cause and my children to see that they can make a difference in the lives of others.

Besides participating in advocacy events, SA Union Square parents are also active at school. The school regularly invites us to celebrations where we get to know other families better. One of my favorite memories is attending a potluck that honored cultural diversity in our school. We sampled dishes from over 30 countries and enjoyed watching a Brazilian dance troupe and other groups perform. We shared a little bit of our Filipino and Irish heritage by bringing a special version of shepherd’s pie.

What is truly special about the community that exists at SA Union Square is that it affords my children the opportunity to learn from classmates of all backgrounds.

Because the school reflects the diversity of New York City, our children are learning to appreciate people who are different from them and don’t have the same life stories. A few of their classmates, for example, commute from as far as the Bronx because they couldn’t get into a good school where they live. Having friends who wake up at 5 every morning to get to school on time helps my children understand the hardships that others face and the true meaning of grit.

Written by Bridget Best February 23, 2015

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