A Rosedale student finally earned a Success Academy fourth grade seat, only to learn it is her last year at her new school.
Nine-year-old Mariam Jimoh loves math, reading and dance, and has just started fourth grade as a new student at Success Academy Rosedale this year. And for the first time, she feels academically challenged.
She has started reading at a new level and is mastering math concepts, but now Jimoh is one of the Success Academy fourth-graders without a middle school next year. After 33 months of families waiting, Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to fulfill his promise that the city would provide a permanent school.
“I love to do different things and I love to learn what I’m capable of doing,” Jimoh said. “Success is an amazing school that challenges me in ways other schools would not be able to do.”
Next year, Jimoh and 226 other children will have to return to district schools, where on average only one in three students are able to read or do math at grade level.
She is zoned to attend fifth grade at PS 183 in Rockaway Beach, where 24 percent of students meet state standards in ELA and 20 percent pass math.
Jimoh was among the hundreds of fourth grade students, parents and educators from southeast Queens who rallied on the steps of City Hall last week pleading for space to learn. Mayor Bill de Blasio ignored the protestors on his way into the building.
“I was really surprised, and I was a bit mad when he just walked past,” she said. “I thought he was going to stop and take into consideration the kids who need a school. I really want the mayor to give us a middle school. It’s just a building.”
At an unrelated press event in Corona Thursday, the mayor deferred to his Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza when a reporter asked about Success Academy’s need for space.
“There is an engagement process that we’ve engaged with all of the communities, not only the Success Academy community, but also the communities of the schools in which there could or could not be space,” Carranza said. “So we are right in that process, we’ve been communicating and meeting with Success Academy officials on a regular basis. They know the timeline but our goal is to make sure they have the space that they need in the appropriate amount of time for them to open on time.”
According to city data and an analysis by independent researchers, there are seven public school buildings with 450 to 1,000 empty seats on southeast Queens, any one of which the city could use to serve these students.
At Success, Jimoh says she has discovered a new sense of courage and appreciates her teachers and new friends.
“They are always so encouraging and when we’re trying new things, they say stuff like, ‘No one will laugh at you, we’re all learning,’” she said.
One new discovery is a love for dance, an elective Jimoh chose this year.
“Dance is a way to be free and do some exercise and move my body,” she said. “It’s nice to dance during the day to mix things up, it’s a different type of learning.”