A Success Academy Teacher Hangs in for 6 Months, Then Enough.
The day prior to my (attempted) visit of one of Eva Moskowitz’s conformist, pressure-cooker Success Academies (SA), former SA teacher Sasha Guirindongo penned this June 14, 2016, post about quitting her once-desired SA job after only 6 months.
Here are Guirindongo’s words, in part:
I was recruited by a Success Academy ambassador through Linkedin during the summer of 2015. She “casually” convinced me to apply to SA by sending me cheery messages of how “my credentials were the right fit for Success.” I believed it when I was immediately offered an interview and was given a classroom for a demo lesson the same day, no second interview needed. The fact that the demo was a different subject and grade than what was initially agreed upon didn’t bother me much. So after a brief discussion with the principal I was offered a “lead teacher” position teaching 5th grade history although it was not the job I initially applied for. I took the job to later learn that I wasn’t even going to have my own classroom. The signs were clear and I had every reason to walk away but I was excited to be teaching at the holy grail of charter schools in NYC.
I was set to join “the team” for T-School, a brainwashing series of seminars aimed to mold you into a “Success teacher” because it’s somehow different than a regular teacher. Success teachers are notregular teachers, no sir, they are above that. The seminars retaught me how to teach and fed my newfound Success ego while stealing an entire month of my well deserved summer vacation. The outcome? I was thoroughly convinced that it took a “special” kind of teacher to teach at Success and I was part of the chosen few. This mentality is what kept me there as long as I did despite looming depression due to my sudden loss of identity and free time to pursue personal passions.
I had heard horrors about SA prior to accepting the job: the long hours and pressure to perform, but coming from another charter school I had confidence that I could accept and overcome any difficulties; Besides I was coming from teaching in East New York and nothing toughens you up more than working in a school where someone is shot dead at the end of the school block during Parent-Teacher Night. So was I intimidated by SA? No. But once I began teaching as a newly baptized SA teacher I quickly realized the toxic environment SA strived to create and force feed educators who had real passion for teaching. SA had managed to create an educational environment that disregarded the well-being of the teacher. It promoted a cut-throat, monetarily incentivized corporate environment in which you prayed for the demise of your peers for an opportunity to inadvertently glorify yourself. Is this what teaching is about?
My 6 months at Success forced me to evaluate who I was as an educator and revise my motivation, a minute personal gain. Success mostly made me doubt my personal success every day. I became doubtful of the importance of teaching; if we could all be trained to be the same, think the same, and act the same then as educators we were inevitably relaying this same message to our students. Every day I relayed the message that just as all teachers had to think and act and be the same, consistency among classrooms, the same was expected of students. SA didn’t celebrate originality or praise the individual, no, SA thrived on doubt, on the inevitable fear of not doing enough, being there enough, talking enough, thinking enough, preparing enough, or absorbing enough information. The underlying message was that this doubt and fear somehow made you better because it encouraged you to take immediate action as you strived to BE THE BEST at the expense of your mental stability, of course. If I couldn’t survive here, I often thought, I had failed and I was not “one of a kind,” I was weak and had no business teaching.
There’s more. To read the full post, click here.
Coming July 08, 2016, from TC Press (revised release date):