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What Does it Mean to be Waitlisted? A Success Academy Parent Asks

The moment I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Jordyn, I thought about her education. My sister has twins, now eight years old, and I’d seen her struggle with the limited number of high-quality schools in Far Rockaway and NYC as a whole. Once, when I was picking up my daughter from daycare (and contemplating her imminent entrance into kindergarten), a flash of orange and blue caught my eye — a Success Academy information table.

Most people who know me know that I’m extremely picky, but the way I see it, why shouldn’t I be, especially with my daughter’s education? I wasn’t sure how Success would measure up to my standards, but I nevertheless set out to learn more about the school design. I grabbed a pamphlet off the table and spoke with the woman there. The more I learned, the more I loved. I admired SA’s K-12 education and commitment to setting high standards for their scholars.

Still, I applied to other charter schools, wanting to keep my options open. I was accepted to every single charter school I applied for — except Success Academy. My SA results read: “Waitlisted”

What does that even mean? I thought. How likely is it that we’ll get in? My mind raced. Should I accept a seat at another school, or wait it out? What if I choose another school and end up getting accepted to SA? It would be so much easier to just choose now, I thought. But I’d spent five years dreaming of a quality education for my child, so I didn’t want to rush the decision. I put my research hat back on and told myself I’d gather as much information as I could before making a final decision.  

At the SA Open House, I was struck with SA’s realistic approach to schooling. They were aware of the challenges scholars face, approaching these challenges with a whole-child curriculum and encouraging parents like me to partner with teachers on our kids’ educational journey. At my local Panera, I noticed current SA scholars in uniform and marveled at how excitedly they spoke to their parents about their latest science project.  

I began to immerse myself in SA and its resources. The deeper I dug, the more I knew this was the right choice for my daughter.

I began to immerse myself in SA and its resources. The deeper I dug, the more I knew this was the right choice for my daughter. I followed Success Academy on Facebook and Instagram and learned about SA’s rigorous STEM and chess programs. I avidly read SA’s newsletter to waitlisted parents, soaking up information on educational event opportunities in the city, spring learning activities, and books that I could read with my scholar. My parent engagement manager comforted me by sharing wisdom about the lottery process, telling me that I could be pulled from the waitlist all the way up until December. She and the other SA staff I’d spoken with along the way made me feel like a parent, rather than a piece of data on a waitlist. Though I had not been accepted yet, I felt like I was already a vital part of the SA community and that they truly cared about my daughter’s education, regardless of what school I attended.

About a month and a half later (and after countless calls to check my waitlist status), I received the news that I was accepted. Relief washed over me. My waiting had been worth it. Nearly a year later, my daughter dances, multiplies and divides, and reads miles above her grade level at Success. The best part? I don’t fight with her to get her to do homework, because she’s actually interested in school.

Being on the waitlist allowed me to take a step back and carefully evaluate what I wanted for my daughter’s education. I learned that it’s not about where you end up, whether that be a public school, private school, or any charter school. It’s about meditating on each school’s curriculum, offerings, results, and design, and deciding what’s best for your child. I was tempted, at first, to side with convenience and select the first school that accepted my daughter. But I realized that she deserved my patience and full dedication to finding the right fit for her. I urge you to invest time in learning about your options before making a decision. Whatever school you have your eye on — call them, visit them, research them, and understand them. Don’t give up on your child’s education — she deserves better.

Written by Megan Pryor May 10, 2019

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