At Achievement First, we know that parents are crucial partners in driving high achievement for all students.
"The support Achievement First schools offer their students is amazing."
When Lissette’s oldest daughter, Tatianna, was in first grade at a traditional public school, Lissette saw she was struggling with her classwork and worried that she would fall through the cracks. Tatianna’s teachers weren’t open about her progress and told Lissette she would have to wait to voice her concerns during a 10-minute appointment at the school’s open house night. Lissette wasn’t satisfied; she wanted to make sure her children received the attention they deserved. A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Lissette did not know much about public charter schools until she received information about AF Crown Heights Elementary in the mail. She noticed how well Achievement First schools were doing and enrolled her children in the lottery.
At Achievement First, Lissette’s older children—Tatianna and Carlos—have found individualized extra help that has enabled them to excel. Her youngest child, Armando, has been given assignments that challenge him even when he is learning at a faster rate than his peers. Since they are learning in small groups tailored to their instructional levels, Lissette’s children are consistently showing academic progress. She is happy to see all three of her children engaged in their education and committed to a future as college graduates.
Favorite aspect of Achievement First: "My children will be able to use what they are learning as they grow to become successful adults. They understand how to approach people and how to carry on conversations about everything from current events to Greek mythology. Their vocabulary is amazing."
Proudest moment at Achievement First: "I am most proud when I see my children talking to their friends about college. They are so goal-oriented. When their friends from other schools tell them they are late to class or are getting poor grades, Tatianna will say, 'Is that grade good enough for you? What are your goals?'"
"At other schools, my sons might get picked on for excelling, but here, it is celebrated."
Alysia was drawn to Amistad Academy because her son, Christopher, needed structure and confidence. Christopher struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder and Alysia wanted him to go to a school that offered a special education program that could fit his needs. She found this approach deeply embedded in the school culture at Amistad Academy. Teachers included all types of learners in their classrooms, explained lessons in multiple ways and required students to keep journals. Alysia’s younger son, Matthew, a third grader, had difficulty with reading comprehension when he arrived at Amistad Academy. He has since shown great improvement, a result Alysia feels is based on the accountability and high expectations to which he is held.
At Achievement First, Alysia’s sons have found African-American male role models and strong advocates in their advisers. She has enjoyed the opportunity to partner with teachers and leaders to brainstorm and develop strategies that best help her sons learn. Alysia feels Achievement First schools have taught Christopher and Matthew that they can perform better than what they had assumed was their best.
Favorite aspect of Achievement First: "Students come to Achievement First schools with different achievement levels, and even those at the lowest levels end up at higher levels. It doesn’t happen by magic; Achievement First gives students the tools and confidence they need to succeed."
Proudest Moment at Achievement First: "My son Christopher, who graduated from AF Amistad High and enrolled in Southern Connecticut State University, had struggled with reading. Last semester, he earned a high 'B' in his reading class. In writing, he earned an 'A' and his professor singled out his paper as an example of how others should write. I know he is using the things he learned at Achievement First to be independent, confident and successful in college."
"I can see the heart and passion of the teachers, who do Whatever It Takes to make sure all students succeed. Enrolling my son here was one of the best decisions I've ever made."
Sara’s son, Xavier, was learning from great teachers at his traditional public school until he hit fourth grade, when his teacher seemed disengaged and Sara noticed he was given the same homework assignment on four occasions. His classroom was chaotic and Sara felt like the year ended with her son not making any real academic progress. She knew Xavier needed a change, so she entered him in the lottery for AF Hartford Academy Middle.
At Achievement First, Sara knows she has found a true learning environment where teachers push Xavier to do his best. Her son, once a reluctant and struggling reader, is now a sixth grader who is enthusiastic about reading, thanks in part to the help of his teacher who volunteered to tutor him on Saturdays. At first he resisted the structure of the Achievement First school day, but now he loves his school and performs with the drumline and plays on the basketball team.
Favorite aspect of Achievement First: "I love the structure and the strong curriculum, which is a perfect fit for my son. The celebratory school culture drives him to do well, and the focus is always on learning."
Proudest moment at Achievement First: "I was proud when Xavier received high honors for the first time last semester. He had never received such high marks before, and he was tremendously excited. It was a great confidence booster."
"If your child has areas for growth, and all kids do, they can get all the help they need at an Achievement First school."
Remi knew he had to do everything he could to make sure his daughter, Solliat, had the best education possible. He and his wife enrolled her in a private school, but despite the money he spent, Remi felt his daughter still wasn’t getting access to the type of instruction she needed in order to succeed later in life. He knew he needed to find another option, so he entered Solliat in the lottery for so many public charter schools that he lost count. Then, he visited AF Endeavor Middle and had a conversation with a school leader. The decision to enroll Solliat in the school was instant. Remi was struck by the resources, curriculum, structure and approach that he found at Achievement First.
Solliat was initially reluctant to leave her old school, where she was excelling and had made great friends. Within three days of attending AF Endeavor Middle, she told her dad that she felt at home. Despite earning stellar grades in her old school, Solliat struggled with the more rigorous AF Endeavor Middle curriculum. Her teachers offered her the support she needed, and Solliat is now mastering her lessons. Remi, who attended private school in his native Nigeria, said he could not imagine his daughter attending a better school than AF Endeavor Middle.
Favorite aspect of Achievement First: "The environment is beautiful and the staff is nurturing and open. You can just look at the statistics and see how well these kids are doing."
Proudest moment at Achievement First: "My proudest moment is seeing Solliat smile and say, ‘Yes daddy, now I understand it. My teachers have been helping me.'"
"She's always been a leader, but Achievement First really helps put her in the position to lead."
When her daughter, Ayanna, was in pre-kindergarten at a public school, Juana couldn’t help but feel frustrated with her behavior. Ayanna naturally had a lot of energy, and it was a challenge for her to focus in the classroom. So Juana’s sister-in-law, who works at a school co-located with an Achievement First school, told her about the network, and Juana knew right away that it would be a great fit for Ayanna.
Since she started attending Achievement First Bushwick Elementary, Juana has noticed a dramatic shift in Ayanna. She loves to see her doing homework on her own because she’s learned the importance of getting her work done. Ayanna has also excelled in group participation and leadership. She’s known for pushing her classmates—and herself—to do their best, and she always has insightful contributions to group projects..
As a parent, Juana especially values Achievement First’s “open school policy,” which encourages parents to drop in any time. She appreciates both the teachers’ and principal’s dedication to openness and family involvement. She’s seen firsthand how hard the AF “Team & Family” works, and their constant investment is evident in Ayanna’s continued development. Although it’s still in the distant future for Ayanna, Juana knows her daughter is being prepared for the demands of college and the work force beyond.
Favorite aspect of Achievement First: “I love the teachers. As soon as they see a student struggling, they take the time and make sure they catch up.”
Proudest moment at Achievement First: “My proudest momentactually stems from Ayanna making a bad decision. She made a mess at a teacher’s parents’ house, and didn’t clean it up very well. The teacher told Ayanna it would be hard to fully trust her again. A few weeks later, I found out that Ayanna had sought out the teacher’s parents and made heartfelt personal apologies to both of them, without any adult intervention. To know that, and to know how it changed the teacher’s view of Ayanna, made me so proud.”
The entire Achievement First Team & Family—of which our parents and students are vital members—partners together to make sure all students are gaining the tools they need to progress to and through college. Parents, students, teachers and school leaders sign a symbolic contract that outlines a shared commitment to hard work and consistent support and plays an important role in strengthening the relationships between parents and schools. We know parents help make our schools great—we welcome them to frequently visit our schools, participate in the Parent Leadership Council, join us at many family-centered school events and remain in constant communication with Achievement First teachers and staff.