Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: Mission Possible & Giveaway!

When the opportunity to read and post about Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School presented itself, I was thrilled. It appealed to many areas of my background.  I studied Sociology/Social Work at Purdue University during which time I also completed an Americorp internship that involved teaching at a Boys & Girls Club in inner-city Indianapolis.  After graduating college I spent the first year and a half of my professional life teaching healthy lifestyle decision making skills in public middle and high schools in Hillsborough County, Florida.   

My experience with the public school system as well as my education and background in social work made me instantly curious about Mission Possible.  To say I was both shocked and disappointed with what I experienced first hand of the public school system in the area I now call home would be an understatement.  I quickly realized why my current coworkers were trying to get their children into Tampa's charter school options.  My heart went out to the frustrated teachers and the disengaged students I encountered during my time guest lecturing.  What I did find, however, is that students are hungry for knowledge and for high expectations to be placed upon them.

Eva Moskowitz founded the Success Academies, a Charter School system in New York.  Their schools do not 'hand pick' their students but rather use a lottery system to choose students from the surrounding areas.  The principles that make their school a success?  Education starts at the top where the principles attend focus groups and practice how to prepare their teachers as well as the students that will attend these schools.  The teachers attend a type of 'summer school' called T school, where they are amply prepared for what their school year will hold before their students set foot within the classroom.

Unfortunately, in America, we don't put a high value on preparing our teachers, yearly, to do their job.  While most professional jobs require training periods and many have yearly retreats, seminars, on the job, or internet training to be completed, teachers are expected to educate our children with little or no continued training and support from their individual schools.  I believe the results that the Success Academies have experienced are a direct result of enabling and empowering their teachers, which boosts the moral that is lacking for most public school teachers in the United States.

The unique perspective that the key to the success of the children is the adults that teach them enabled the Success Academies to take a Harlem charter school from a concept to one of the top schools in New York City and State in just three years time.  The system they have and the advice they provide in the book is relevant, fresh, and proven to work!

Another key ingredient that Success Schools has identified and tapped into is parent involvement.  They require the parents of all students enrolled in Success Academies to agree to a high standard of involvement which includes nightly reading and homework time with their children and they hold the parents to that high standard. Teachers are responsible for the education the students receive in the classroom but parents have to take responsibility for continuing that education in the homes.  

Excuses are constantly made for our education systems flaws and for the failed teacher involvement but Moskowitz and Lavinia's Success Schools prove that with the right approach students excel, teacher moral can be lifted and maintained, and students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, home lives, and neighborhoods can reach high educational goals and standards.

I agree with Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado who said:
'We need to create more opportunities to replicate what is working at places like Success Academies'


Along with the review copy of this book, I also received one to give to one of my readers.  If you are interested in reading Mission Possible, please comment on this post to be entered to win.  Please include your e-mail address so that I can get in touch with you easily if your entry is selected. Also, please note that the winner must be within the United States, for shipping reasons.  This will be open until 5:00 next Friday, August 10th.

Disclaimer: While I was compensated for this review, all thoughts and opinions stated are my own.


Amber said...

I'm always interested in new books :) My email address is brunchwithamber@gmail.com

Ali said...

I really enjoy your blog! I've been reading for the past couple of months but haven't been great at commenting. I'd like to change that! I also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a Liebster Award. If you're interested in participating in this fun link-up, just check out my latest post: http://alitheincrementalist.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-first-blog-award.html. Hope you'll play along :-)

Katie said...

I would to read over this book! My email is: abritandheryank@gmail.com

Miss Hencke said...

This seems like a great book, and I am very interested in reading it! I completely agree that teachers don't really have as much training as they should and would love to learn more about how others teach :) Pick me pick me :) -k

Natalie Simon said...

I am a teacher in Tampa and would love to read this book. I am always looking for professional books to read. My email address is nataliedsimon@gmail.com