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The SA Rookies’ Guide to Great Teaching

This school year, Success Academy is welcoming 669 new teachers to our network of schools. We cannot wait to see what they will accomplish! There’s no one secret to becoming a great teacher, but there are plenty of things that new teachers can do to get off on the right foot. 

With that in mind, we asked the advice of a number of experts — teachers who were just starting out this time last year and went on to be honored with Rookie of the Year Excellence Awards in the spring. These awards honor faculty and staff across our schools and Network office who exemplify excellence in advancing our mission to provide an extraordinary education to New York City children.

We hope their reflections will prove valuable for new teachers just starting their careers.

What steps can you take to have a good year?

“Be your authentic self at all times. When you are authentic, you are able to foster deeper relationships with your scholars and coworkers. If you are genuine with them, they will give you the same respect and kindness back. As clichéd as it sounds, just be yourself.”

—Scout Lansing, SA Bed-Stuy MS

“Be flexible and open to trying new things. The exciting part about being a teacher is that each day is different and comes with a new challenge or skill to learn. Being flexible and open-minded will help you adapt to these challenges and provide the best learning for your scholars.” 

—Erin Walsh, SA Harlem 6

“Take risks! Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes or failing at the very beginning. It is part of the process. You are going to get to the finish line and it will feel amazing, so just be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you have.”

—Caitlyn D’Amico, SA Bed-Stuy

How do you push through the challenges that you face during your first year?

“Remember to be human and be vulnerable because that’s the best way to form real relationships with kids. Take it day by day and meet every challenge and frustration and obstacle that you run into with gratitude.”

   —William Wiltshire, SA Harlem East

“After my first year at SA, my biggest piece of advice would be to stay on your feet and be prepared to pivot in your thinking, perspective, and instructional choices in order to learn and grow along with your students.”

  —Emma Wieland, SA Springfield Gardens

“The best advice I want to share is to give yourself some grace and always celebrate your successes. Although a teacher’s job is challenging, it is very rewarding when you are passionate and invested in your job.” 

—Anastazia Fogle, SA Crown Heights


Scholars from Anastazia Fogle’s first Success Academy class last school year.


How can your colleagues help you be successful?

“Throw yourself into the school community. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to colleagues, chat with scholars of different grades in the hallways, and assist around the school whenever you can. I started to find my place once I viewed my role as larger than my homeroom.” 

       —Emma Buzbee, SA Lafayette MS

“Get to know as many SA staff members and scholars as you can. It’s a great way to absorb information and become the best version of yourself. The people I have met have contributed to who I am as a teacher.”

    —Maddie Crooker, SA Hudson Yards

“Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask why you are doing something or to reach out for help. There are veteran teachers who are eager to help you and give you guidance. Take all the feedback given to you by leaders and your colleagues and apply it in practice.”

 —Chedine Perrin, SA East Flatbush MS

Written by Success Academy August 17, 2022

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