ASPIRA PA, the Hunting Park-based charter school nonprofit, is hoping its discipline-focused school expands out of the state and down the east coast to other cities.
Started at Stetson B. Middle School two years ago, its flagship Success Academy has acted as a high-disciplinary school-within-a-school. While most of the school learns on the first three floors, Success Academy sits on the fourth floor of the 80-year-old building for students who need extra disciplinary action.
“When Success Schools partnered with ASPIRA, we didn’t really know what we were getting into, because it was so new and nobody had been down that road ever,” said Brett Wade, program director for Success Academy at Stetson B. Middle School. “A lot of different scary places have kids expelled and sent to us.”
That included Stetson before ASPIRA took it over and ran it as a charter school. Stetson was previously know as a ‘persistently dangerous’ school. In fact, in its last year as a district-run school, Stetson had nearly 500 suspensions and 20 student expelled, according to the School District of Philadelphia. Last year, just four suspensions and one expulsion ocurred. Part of the reason those numbers are down is Success Academy is that ASPIRA offers teachers a lot of support, Wade explained.
“It’s the team mindset that this building has,” he said. “A lot of times teachers feel as though they’re on an island in regular, in public schools. Here, they’re made to feel like they’re a part of a unit.”
He explained teachers are coached regularly to create a supportive culture, and that’s showed in students’ changed behavior.
Precious Paulin has been to Success Academy and allowed back in the school’s general population.
“I wouldn’t even be in school,” she said, if it wasn’t for Success Academy.