What inspires and challenges a founding AF principal?Category: News, Home
Interview with Stephanie Blake, founding principal at AF Endeavor Elementary
AF Endeavor Elementary
Opened: August 2011
Grades served: K-1 (growing to K-4)
What inspired you to found an Achievement First school?
Having taught in the classrooms of public schools in various settings, I’ve seen many approaches to closing the achievement gap. When I came to AF, I realized that this experience was going to be different. I was instantly surrounded by like-minded people who believed that every child can and will meet high standards, succeed in our schools, go to college, and graduate from college. The AF Endeavor Elementary founding team is no exception. All 22 staff members have incredibly high expectations for scholar’s academic achievement and character development as well as a fire to close the achievement gap in NYC and across the country.
What are you most excited about for the 2010-11 school year?
During my commitment meetings, over 40% of families shared that they were concerned about the confidence level of their scholars. One parent shared, “She just doesn’t believe that she CAN do it.” I am most excited about scholars having success at school and developing the confidence and knowledge that they can achieve anything that they want to accomplish.
What is the biggest challenge you are anticipating? How can the network support you?
I think that we will face two huge challenges this year. First, our 1st grade class is coming in significantly below grade level. Only one out of our 90 incoming 1st graders is coming in reading at grade level. Despite where they are coming in, we know that we must push our scholars so that all 90 of them reach the proficiency benchmark for 1st grade by the end of the year. While daunting, the AF Endeavor Elementary team knows that not only is it possible that we reach our goal…it is necessary if we want to put these scholars on the road to college. The second challenge that I think we will face this year is staying consistent with our school-wide management system. While the entire AF Endeavor team believes in our system and knows that it will build the character of each of our scholars, we also anticipate that we are going to need to build our skill in administering effective consequences so that scholars learn from their mistakes.
What is one idea you learned from another Achievement First school and are using at your school?
Last year, I worked at AF Brownsville Elementary as a principal-in-residence. Over the year, I developed incredibly close relationships with the leadership team and the staff. The AF Endeavor Elementary team and family steals at least one of their brilliant ideas every single day.
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