Valuing Our Teachers And Mission Possible Book Giveaway

Back to School
It’s almost time for the kids to go back to school. As an active parent in my children’s elementary school (I’ve served in several volunteer positions including homeroom parent and on the PTO Board) I don’t view September (when my kids start spending all day in school instead of at home during the summer months) a time when my schedule “frees up.”
Busy Schedules
In fact, I’m getting ready to be busier than ever and am currently working on back to school events for parents including Meet the Teacher, Kindergarten back to school breakfast and a Homeroom Parent/Teacher social….all taking place the first week of school.
Budget Cuts
I’ve watched budget cuts in my school district drastically change (or cut) school programs that my children love (and need). Frustrated, I have taken action by becoming extremely involved at a school level to support my childrens’ teachers and administration; raising money and parent involvement so that the cuts are not as painful to those in the classroom.
Burned Out
There is nothing sadder to me then to see a teacher who originally dedicated his or her career (that comes with long hours and low pay) to educating children because they believe in the power and importance of what they are doing … give up. But I understand. Budget cuts lead to stagnation, being unable to accomplish one’s job at a high level, which is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale.
What Do We Do?
So why does our country treat teaching so differently than it does other professions? Why do they make so much less than other professionals, but expected to move mountains with few (and always decreasing) resources? And why do we, as parents, accept mediocrity in education when we can have so much more?
Recently, I read Mission Possible: How the Secrets of Success Academies Can Work in Any School by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia. In it, Arin, a literacy expert and Eva, the Founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, offer ideas for principals, teachers, parents and school reformers to improve teaching in learning. Based on concepts and best practices from the Success Academies, the book outlines ways schools can be more successful and I am FIRED UP.

Eva Moskowitz

Eva’s first charter school, Success Academy Harlem 1, quickly emerged as one of the top performing schools in New York State and was featured in The Lottery and Waiting for Superman. Today they have 3,500 students attending nine schools. Five more schools are expected to open this summer and they plan to eventually run 40 K-8th schools with 25,000 students.
High Demand
Last year 9,000 parents entered the lottery for 900 spots at their schools and they expect 15,000 to enter this year for 1,200 spots. So they realize that there are many other students, parents and educators across the nation hungry for more in terms of what their educational system can offer. That’s why they outlined their concepts in the book and dvd; giving people specific action items to make a positive difference.
Food For Thought
Some of the things Eva and Arin believe (backed up by success in the Success Academy schools) that particular struck me include:
  1. focus on the grown-ups, not the kids. Success Academy teachers “get extraordinary amounts of training, time and resources to develop their professional skills…coaching and mentoring to a degree unheard of in regular public schools.”
  2. do things FAST (their core value). This concept includes both education for the children and development and feedback for the teachers.
  3. partnerships with parents
Some of the things I, as a PTO board member, will be advocating for are:
  1. more books for the library AND the classrooms
  2. more quality field trips to make learning fun
  3. a commitment to recess/outdoor play to exercise kids’ bodies as well as their minds
  4. more time for teacher planning and development
But there is SO much more. I love how they refer to their students as scholars, their teachers as professors and their grades as class of x (the date that particular class will graduate from high school. This is done even for those in kindergarten!)
This book has so many practical ideas, backed by research and success in their schools and demonstrated on the dvd, you really have to get it your hands to see what it’s all about. To learn more about Mission Possible and how to buy the book, you can visit them on their website or on facebook.  Are you an educator or parent with questions for Eva? I encourage you to visit with her on twitter.
Mission Possible Book and DVD Giveaway
But you know that I’m going to give you a chance to win a copy, right? To win a copy of the book Mission Possible (which includes a dvd) all you have to do is leave a comment below about why you think this country treats teaching so differently than it does other professions. I’ll be picking a winner by random on August 9, 2012. Open to those in the U.S. only.
For more chances, leave a separate comment for each of the following you do:
  1. Follow me on Pinterest
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Like Still Living The Dream on Facebook
  4. Like Eva Moskowitz on Facebook
  5. Follow Eva Moskowitz on Twitter
I was compensated for this post but all opinions expressed are my own.


  1. 1
    Teri S says:

    Hey girl! You knew I was going to comment, right?!? Well as a new teacher I still have a “Pollyanna” view on everything, I want to succeed no matter the cost! There is a problem, and I hope I’m going to be part of the change to fix things :-). Every student is capable of learning and they need real life situations to learn from, which makes field trips a great way to learn and have fun. I wish you the best of luck as you try to make a difference in our schools, I’m glad to know you’re on my side!

    • 1.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      I’m so glad you did! You are going to be a great teacher and I hope that your administrative team supports you and fosters your development which will trickle down to your students. I’m SO proud of you and thank you so much for commitment to educating our children. Anything I can do for you…let me know!

  2. 2
    Stephanie says:

    Sadly I think many parents treat schools as a dumping ground for their kids. I see so many that treat it is a FREE daycare for 6 hours a day and the parent teacher conferences as a pain. Not sure when it got to this point, but having 2 sisters that are teachers, I hear the lack of participation among the parents and how the same handful of parents are always the ones volunteering. Why these views of teachers is out there, I do not know, but until parents take active participation in their child’s education, it will only get worse. You have intrigued me with this book as I think it would be a great read for my homeschooling spouse and I would be able to review the dvd.

    • 2.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      I think you are right. Parent involvement/participation is key to a successful school. And that doesn’t mean being up there all day. You can support the curriculum and activities in other ways rather then volunteering time shelving books in the library. The most important thing is what’s happening at home between kids and their parents. The book goes into much detail about parents supporting the teachers/curriculum and the Success Academy Charter Schools even have a parent contract that they all sign in the beginning of the year….which I think is great. Thanks for your comment!

  3. 3
    Alba Garza says:

    I think they are treated as free daycare also. Anything so those 8-5 parents dont have to deal or worry about the kids. And dont have the teachers call meetings, oh no, dont disrupt their busy meetings, etc..

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