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Born to Rise: A Story of Children and Teachers Reaching Their Highest Potential Hardcover – June 5, 2012
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“Deborah’s journey is a gift: she teaches children to love learning” (Bill Cosby)
“Deborah Kenny’s inspiring story holds powerful lessons for parents, teachers, administrators, and elected officials across the country.” (Mayor Michael Bloomberg)
“Our country needs more schools like Harlem Village Academies.” (Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education)
“Deborah has created something extraordinary at Harlem Village Academies. You feel a warmth and an intellectual energy but most of all there’s a passion for learning like I have never before seen at a school.” (Hugh Jackman)
“One woman’s tragedy turns into triumph for hundreds of Harlem schoolchildren in Kenny’s personal and professional memoir… the anecdotes of successful teachers (Kenny’s “rock stars”) at work and students whose lives were truly turned around by her work prove persuasive and uplifting.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Deborah’s passion and integrity are inspirational. This important story is a must-read.” (John Legend)
“This memoir of a young widow’s quest to transform urban education by establishing the groundbreaking Harlem Village Academies will inspire readers everywhere.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)
“Parents and principals trying to understand what makes successful schools work ought to read Born to Rise.” (New York Times)
Born to Rise is about Deborah Kenny’s ability to see greatness in every child and transform entire communities. Her journey is a passionate one and gives me goose bumps.” (Jason Mraz)
“I forgive Deborah Kenny for writing an interesting book, Born to Rise, for her misinformed - even slanderous - claims about the impact of unions…. it’s a very good book to read-useful, informative and inspiring.… her educational values are close to mine.” (Deborah Meier)
From the Back Cover
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Her remarkable story begins shortly after her husband died from leukemia in 2001. Along with three young children to care for, no insurance benefits from her husband's death, no job, enrollment in a PhD program, she also wanted to help disadvantaged children trapped in failing Harlem schools. (In 2000, 78% of Harlem 8th-graders failed reading, 87% failed math.)
Turning that vision into reality began with visiting Chris Whittle, CEO of Edison Schools. He hired her - first assignment was to help a new team trying to get contracts for four NYC charter schools. Immediately she started hearing stories about the lengths the NYC teacher unions would go to because they were concerned the effort would grow to envelop many more of the city's 1,000+ schools. They would pay groups to come out and demonstrate against the charters, created robocalls that misinformed parents into believing Edison-managed public schools would charge tuition, file large number of grievances at charter efforts involving union teacher - tying up the principal with hearings, got Al Sharpton involved, and even sneered at teachers who stayed after 3 P.M. to tutor.
After awhile Kenny concluded that even Edison's successes weren't good enough - that their scripted, top-down management approach precluded teacher ownership and even better results. So she decided to open her own charter school.
Researching successful examples, she came upon a source in California - Don Shalog, who had started that state's first charter school in 1992.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story. Provides a prescription for fixing our most important problem - educating our young people. Very courageous story.Published 5 months ago by Mr. Antwaan Evans
I work in education, providing services to charter schools so have a good deal of background in the fraught topic of ed. reform. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Andrew Adelmann
Inspiring read on how one person can affect so much change. Education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation.Published on February 3, 2014 by Franklin
A must read for every educator in the world! No doubt the best approach to student achievement....Invest in Teachers. Hire hard, manage light.Published on January 3, 2014 by K. Smith
This was a great read. Amazing story of accomplishment. I would love to meet this lady because she has really done something amazing. Read morePublished on December 6, 2013 by Robyn Clark