July 22, 2015 13:23 Age: 2 yrs

Parents are Partners: Building Relationships at AF North Brooklyn Prep Elementary

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Vanessa Santiago is the parent of a rising second-grader at Achievement First North Brooklyn Prep Elementary.

I know that with a great education, my daughter Evelyn can have a better chance at success in her adult life. Even in her first year at AF North Brooklyn Prep Elementary, the school has helped show her that this is possible, and encouraged her to do better work, build character and community and so much more. I didn’t always know that this was in store for Evelyn.

Before she came to AF North Brooklyn Prep Elementary, when she was in kindergarten, her teacher unfortunately had to leave halfway through the year due to health issues. It was no one’s fault, but my daughter had a different substitute teacher every day, which was really hard for a kid her age. Also around that time, Evelyn was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, and we had a difficult time letting each new substitute know how to best support her. The communication structure was just not there, and so I felt like we had to look for another option for Evelyn.

When I was notified that she was accepted into AF North Brooklyn Prep Elementary, I jumped for joy because I had heard about how open they are in including parents, which was new for me. The first time I got a phone call from the school, I was worried and thought something was wrong—but it was actually just a check-in to let me know that Evelyn was doing well.  At this school, the teachers and leaders communicate with me on a daily basis, which has made it so much easier for my family to know that Evelyn is safe and healthy.

School leaders are constantly partnering with us as well. They hosted a series of sessions for parents to help us understand the curriculum so that we could help our kids. We are always working together to help Evelyn succeed. She needed extra help with reading and started working with a reading group led by Ms. Thompson. After a few sessions, Ms. Thompson called to let me know how Evelyn was improving, and I could tell that she was so excited and dedicated to my child. We were both so excited for Evelyn’s progress, we cried together. That meant so much to me as a parent.

It took Evelyn a few months to get comfortable because she can be a little shy. Her teachers helped so much because they are always supportive and pull her to the side to reassure her whenever they see her getting overwhelmed. With their encouragement, she has found a love for learning, and she is finally getting the education she deserves.

When I think about next year, I’m just excited. I’m looking forward to getting even more involved at the school that has made such a difference in my daughter. We’ve only had one year at this school, and I know that enrolling her was the best decision I’ve made. 

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