The deadly pandemic that forced children to isolate and learn remotely has only deepened painful issues of inequity. All around us, there is profound learning loss and lack of access to equitable resources. At Success Academy, we have a special obligation to get back on track and ensure that our students realize their full potential, despite COVID and the public health crisis we are in.
At the heart of our anti-racist agenda is our unwavering belief in the power of children and their capacity to learn and achieve. When children have access to high-quality teaching and learning — and positive, supportive adults who hold them to high expectations — almost anything is within their grasp.
We are not afraid to hold our kids accountable because we want them to develop the autonomy and confidence to lead self-determined lives. We prepare them to face challenges and seize opportunities — we don’t let others tell them that their circumstances of race, income, or family environment will limit their life choices. We believe all children deserve adults who believe in them, believe they are capable, and can help them develop the social-emotional strength to overcome whatever is in their way to achieve their dreams.
Empowering our students through education requires a strong focus on inclusivity in what they learn, and we have worked hard to ensure that the texts and topics we study represent the robust diversity of their community, city, country, and global heritage. We don’t shy away from controversial topics; opposing ideas are discussed and critiqued. Our intellectual culture exposes students to diverse ideas, and divergent, provocative thought. We teach students not what to think, but how to think — we don’t inculcate values, beliefs, or prejudices, but instead teach scholars to think critically and determine their own conclusions.
Our goal is to create learning communities where each child and staff member feels respected, empowered, and valued; where they experience daily affirmation of their unique knowledge, ideas, and contributions; and where they receive the support they need to reach their full potential. In pursuit of this goal, we have focused over the past several years on creating a workforce that is representative of the students and communities we serve, and we have achieved a high degree of diversity across our staff. That diversity has made us stronger and created new opportunities for us to grow and learn from each other.
Roughly half of our school staff are people of color and we are committed to ensuring that all staff have equitable opportunities for career mentorship, development, and advancement. We know we have more work to do — representation among school leadership, at the Network office, and among Network leadership is not yet where it should be. We commit to focusing on fostering an environment of inclusion and a sense of belonging across all areas of the enterprise. Creating a warm, inclusive environment takes all of us reaching out and being our most welcoming, unbiased selves.
This year our first cohort of students, those who started with us in 2006, will graduate from college, the first of many more to follow. We will be cheering them on, celebrating their accomplishments, and learning from them how we can better prepare future students. Essential to that effort will be SA’s ongoing education and leadership around DE&I so that our current students flourish, gain the confidence to dream big, and develop the strength and capacity to bring those dreams to life.