February 16, 2010 22:52 Age: 8 yrs

Keep fighting the good fight for the right reasons

Category: Home, Maia Heyck-Merlin
By: Maia Heyck-Merlin

Every week, I have the privilege of seeing messages our hard-working school leaders send to their teams with their reflections on the past week. This note was from Marin Smith, a first-year principal at Achievement First Crown Heights Elementary School, and past academic dean and teacher. I was struck by her last paragraph encouraging her team to keep fighting the good fight for the right reasons. It's what we all must do to close the achievement gap.

Dear Team,

On Saturday, I led our first Information Session of the season. Information Sessions are for families who are beginning their search for the best school for their child. It is the first step in the process that culminates at lottery night in April, when parents find out if their child’s name is drawn in our extremely competitive lottery. Many families attend multiple events like this, for multiple AF schools and multiple other charters, and complete a lottery application at each event.

It was bitter cold, it was Saturday morning and as I was driving to school, I predicted that no one would show. Who would wake up to come out for this? It was too cold, and too early.

I was dead wrong.

When I arrived at 9:30, several families were already in the back of the auditorium, completing their paperwork – this was before the presentation had even started! By 10:05 when we began, we had 45 families who had come out to learn about AFCHES. Throughout the presentation and the school tour, parents asked thoughtful questions, expressed so much excitement (and anxiety) about the upcoming lottery, and really ooh'ed and ahh'ed over our K classrooms and the opportunities that their children would have here – small-group reading instruction, specials every day, daily communication with teachers. It was particularly heartening to see them smile and nod and even cheer when I spoke about their children receiving a K-12 education at AF, and about how at Amistad High School in CT, the 12th graders are arriving to school each day with early acceptance letters from colleges.

I left the Information Session feeling so re-energized and uplifted. It was an awesome reminder of the importance , value and meaning of our work. So, so many families are searching for better alternatives for their children, and we are privileged to provide this for them.

As we muster through these winter weeks before our February vacation, let's keep this in mind, and let it help us keep our thinking positive and determined. So many families – more than we'll ever know – are changed by what we offer. Each day, we are doing work that means so much to so many people.

Take care,

Marin