Born to Rise: A Story of Children and Teachers Reaching Their Highest Potentialby Deborah Kenny
Deborah Kenny was a young mother of three small children seeking to make sense of her life amid the despair of her husband's untimely death when she decided to devote herself to radically reinventing public education. Born to Rise recounts a journey that led Kenny to risk her life savings to open schools in Harlem while proving that all children, regardless of
Deborah Kenny was a young mother of three small children seeking to make sense of her life amid the despair of her husband's untimely death when she decided to devote herself to radically reinventing public education. Born to Rise recounts a journey that led Kenny to risk her life savings to open schools in Harlem while proving that all children, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances, can learn at high levels. Students enter Harlem Village Academies several years behind grade level, but in just a few years they are transformed, ranking among the highest in the nation—with 99 percent of eighth graders meeting proficiency standards in math, science, and social studies.
How do they do it?
For the first time, Kenny shares the groundbreaking strategy that took ten years to develop. She reveals the secret to creating a powerful workplace culture that attracts the most talented people and brings out their passion and highest performance—a culture that produces stunning student achievement and teachers who regularly use words like magical to describe the workplace environment.
Born to Rise is the moving and strikingly candid account of Kenny's deeply personal dream: to pursue social justice for our nation's most vulnerable children. Part memoir, part manifesto, it is a hopeful and practical exposition of what it takes to transform schools and create organizations where the staff lights up with entrepreneurial drive. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about children and the future of this country, as well as for leaders who want to motivate and inspire fierce dedication in their employees.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author
Deborah Kenny is founder and CEO of Harlem Village Academies, a network of public charter schools. She is widely regarded as one of the most influential educational entrepreneurs in the country and is regularly featured in national television and print media. Kenny holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University in comparative international education and a B.A. Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in New York City.
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I think teaching is the best job in the world, and I have been a teacher for ten years. I taught two years as a Teaching Fellow in the South Bronx, two years at a high school in Queens and six years at Harlem Village Academy Leadership, one of Deborah Kenny's middle schools. I honestly cannot imagine teaching anywhere else. HVA schools are amazing. I am so happy Deborah decided to tell her story. In her book, the events of her life are woven together so carefully and honestly. This is the story of how she founded our schools, developed the best people, honed her vision, and never stopped working toward improving every single aspect of our schools. In every decision she made, she was always guided by what would be best for the students she wanted to teach. Both her incredible work ethic and her eye for detail beautifully translate to the page. Her commitment to educational equality is so inspiring, and in this book, you read about just how greatly it impacts the lives of her students and teachers. Every child deserves a great teacher, and Deborah has become an expert at creating schools where teachers love to teach and students love to learn. Deborah's book, Born to Rise, is the story of how she changed the lives of so many children and so many teachers. And it's beautiful.
Extraordinary effort from one very giving person and her family to improve childrenkind! Hooray for heroes that still care! I am a 30 year veteran who constantly looks for ways to improve how I teach - thanks to this book i have some new ones to try out!
I knew that my own teaching processes were out of place in the public system, they'd be a better fit in Deborah's school. Born to Rise validates why great teachers just are not a good fit in most of our nations schools. Every teacher and administrator needs to read this book before the start of school this fall. You will receive encouragement to keep teaching the way YOU know is best for students and not bow to the system. If you're thinking of starting your own school, this is the handbook, full of details of the long journey to a dream for true student learning.
I read with interest Ms. Kenny's ambitious desire to start a charter school in Harlem; the achievements of that first school and those that followed are commendable. In my career as a public school educator, I have heard many negative comments regarding low test scores, out-of-control students, and lackluster teaching which are described in this book. While I disagree that unions in general want to keep all teachers employed, regardless of ability, I do feel that the "rules" governing the public education system sometimes make it difficult for teachers to do the best job possible. One passage in the book really spoke to me: a corporate leader describing his managment philosophy as being about people and culture (page 195) -- "You hire people you trust completely to do the job. Then you create a culture that enables them to do their best work. That's it. You have to appreciate and support people and take away the roadblocks so they can do their job." If all administrators, in public, charter, and private schools, adhered to this sentiment, more high-quality teaching would take place. I do wonder at about the equity regarding students in the Harlem Village Academies--do those schools include special needs students in the same percentage as surrounding public schools? Are students whose first language is not English similarly included? Overall, a good book that has made me think more about my teaching methods and the culture of my own school.
At first I was afraid this book was written by a person that was going to promote liberal ideals...."social justice". However, her social justice isn't the political kind we here politicians promote. Hers is the idea that all children deserve a great education, no matter where they live. Suburb schools should not be better than inner-city schools. I totally agree. I also agree that our teachers should be encouraged and allowed to teach. So many good teachers become discouraged because of the politics of school districts and governments. I wish all our children could experience Mrs. Kenny's schools.
Dr. Kenny provides an inspiring account of educational progress for an urban population. This is a "must read" for anyone in the field of education. Stil, as one who works fr a public school system, I was left with a few unanswered questions. What is the average class size at HVA? If it was smaller than 30, I would hope Dr. Kenny would advocate for smaller classes in all of our nation's schools. Additionally, although HVA used a lottery, I question whether this resulted in a random population of students. The parents of HVA students showed a certain level of initiative and involvement when they participated in the lottery. The public schools provide support for students whose parents are much less involved. That being said, I truly loved the compassionate, innovative ideas shared in this book. Best wishes to Dr. Kenny and all educators associated with her academies.
I am going to order this book. Its so good to know there are people out there who care about others especially those in the lower socioeconomic status. She sounds like a wonderful human being who has shown the world what its like to truly give back. She will forever be blessed for her actions.