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Why Our School Should Get Space for Fifth Grade

On June 10, the Panel for Educational Policy is expected to vote on a proposal that would give Success Academy Williamsburg school space for fifth grade in its current building. Ms. Johnson recently shared her thoughts about why her school should be able to grow to include a fifth grade.

As a resident of Williamsburg and the principal of a school that serves predominantly District 14 children and families, I am pleased to be part of a neighborhood that believes so strongly in education, diversity, and excellence.

When we opened the doors of Success Academy Williamsburg three years ago, I promised families we would be a school where we could work together to make possibility the reality for their scholars. I spoke to families about this because I truly believe this is the mission of schooling. A life worth living is one that is full of dreams and opportunities, and this is what I believe we all want for the children of this neighborhood, city, and country.

I promised families we would be a school where we could work together to make possibility the reality for their scholars.

We are on the way to making this dream a reality for our scholars. Ninety-five percent of our children in grades K-3 are reading at or above grade level. Our kindergartners are solving math problems that involve fractions, multiplication, and division. Our third graders have performed more than 300 science experiments in their three years here. Our chess team is nationally ranked. We recently hosted an art show with more than 400 beautiful works of art; every scholar in the school had at least one work of art on display. Our scholars sing, bucket drum, step, dance, do yoga, and play soccer, basketball, and track at a competitive level. We are here today to make sure this phenomenal education can continue here in the neighborhood where our scholars live. Without this space, we will not be able to fulfill our promise to our parents and, more importantly, to our kids — the promise that they will have an education that supports whatever hopes and dreams live within them.

In addition, every day we spend together focused on this shared vision, we become more and more like a family. This building is our home. It is where I shake hands with every child in the morning. It is where we have had countless special family events. It is where I have to kick teachers out in the evening because they are working too hard. This building is where we are comfortable and thriving. This building is where we get closer and closer to fulfilling our goal every day.

This is also a school that the community continues to support and call out for. This past year, our school received more than 2,400 applications for fewer than 75 open seats in grades K-4. There were 395 applications for fourth grade seats alone.

We are very fortunate to be in this building. From our perspective, we have a terrific relationship with our co-located school, MS 50. We have collaborated on tutoring programs, hosted meet-and-greets, and made signs and cards to show support for each other during state testing. We thank MS 50 for their tremendous support as we opened our doors. We will continue to work together and support MS 50 and the El Puente Beacon Leadership Center to make this the best school community, because we want all kids to receive an incredible education.

Please let us stay in our home and help us make the hopes and dreams of our scholars a reality.

Written by Abigail Johnson June 8, 2015

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