Family Spotlight: Declining a Gifted Program, Discovering Success
Allandy Monestime – April 21, 2016
Miriam and Justin Reyes have given so much to Success Academy Bergen Beach and are one of the reasons our community is strong. Mrs. Reyes has been a member of the Parent Council Executive Committee for two years and runs the group’s Facebook page. She helps organize dinners, playdates, and outings with other families and gives tours of our school to prospective parents. Mr. Reyes also regularly volunteers. When our school hosted a family game night, he set up a chess station to play with other parents and scholars and discuss strategies. Their son, Isaiah, a second grader, loves science and sharing what he’s learned. For Career Day, he came to school dressed as a paleontologist, because he wants to be one when he grows up. When I heard that that the Reyeses had first considered a gifted program for their son, I wanted to know more.
What drew you to Success Academy in the first place? I didn’t know anything about charter schools but, in 2012, a friend asked me to come with her on a tour of Success Academy Upper West. I agreed to go out of curiosity. When I saw the beautiful art on the bulletin boards, the sight words on the floor, the calm environment inside the classrooms, I was immediately impressed. I am a product of NYC public schools and I was very accustomed to pandemonium in the hallways and in the classrooms. At Success, I felt like I was at an elite private school.
Your son had the option to attend a gifted and talented program. Why did you ultimately choose Success? When the lottery results were announced, Isaiah was waitlisted for SA Bergen Beach. We had our hearts set on the school, but we knew there was a chance he would not get off the waitlist. So we took one of the seats he was offered in a gifted and talented program. In the summer, when we got a call saying Isaiah had a seat at SA Bergen Beach, we were elated. We ultimately chose Success because the school offered a more rigorous academic program that emphasizes math and science and because the school environment was so joyful. We knew that this environment would meet Isaiah’s academic needs and make him happy.
What has been your experience so far? Our experience has truly been extraordinary. His teachers have been phenomenal, always available to discuss his progress, and always giving us suggestions and resources for how we can support Isaiah’s growth at home, both academically and socially.
How does Isaiah feel about the school? Isaiah loves going to school and learning. He has gained confidence in speaking in public due largely in part because he shares his ideas and strategies with his peers at the carpet during Number Stories, Shared Text and guided reading. Every day, he tells us about what he learned in science, what the other kids shared in class, and the books he’s reading. He especially loves having time-ins with his science teacher, Mrs. Kadansky, so he can show her his latest gadget and explain to her the theory of relativity. It also boggles my mind how much he reads and how well he understands all types of texts, including poetry.
What has surprised you about the school? Our parent community is absolutely amazing! I love that families have playdates together and that everyone is so caring. At arrival and dismissal times, you see parents greeting each other and discussing strategies and best practices that will help their kids. During the day, you see parents putting up bulletin boards and helping teachers in other ways. There is also a sense that we are part of a greater community that is trying to improve education for all children in NYC. I can’t wait to see our children graduate from high school and go off to college and and then on to successful careers.