Monday, July 30, 2012

Books We Love: “Mission Possible” by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia

This is a sponsored blog post. The opinions are 100% mine.
Perhaps you’ve noticed this disturbing trend in our society: teachers, who just a few years ago were lauded as the underpaid, underappreciated heroes of our communities are now often vilified as lazy, over-compensated, union fat-cats. Frustrated with a system that often fails our students, it seems communities have turned on teachers in an effort to unfairly punish them for a system that is as expensive as it is (often) ineffective.

Eva Moskowitz
Enter Eva Moskowitz, former New York City Council member, who founded the stunningly effective Success Academy Charter Schools; along with literacy expert Arin Lavinia, they share the secrets, tools, and techniques of academic excellence in their new book, Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work In Any School, and it’s a thrilling challenge to anyone or any school system on the brink of giving up. What’s particularly intriguing to me as a teacher myself is the way Moskowitz and Lavinia “zig” when everyone else seems to “zag.” They write, “We focus on the grown-ups, not the children. We believe the adults in the school—principals and teachers—hold the keys to educational excellence.” Instead of blaming teachers, “We give our teachers extraordinary amounts of training, time, and resources to develop their professional skills.” And it has paid off in ways that are awe-inspiring to behold.

Mission Possible begins by exploring the why. What’s wrong with American Schools? Through statistics and a brief history lesson, our past and present are put into context. After an overview of how to make school a “magical place,” the book puts its primary concept on the line: that an excellent school is all about the adults: the principal, teachers, and parents who work together to ensure students’ (they call them scholars) success.

Arin Lavinia
The book explains their core principles of speed and rigor then expands on the most critical skills for our scholars: reading and writing. The book ends with a call to action. Moskowitz and Lavinia challenge us all with the statement that every school can be a success academy. But it takes the will to give teachers the training and support they need; to engage parents in the process; and to treat students as the scholars you wish them to be. The book comes with an excellent dvd where you can see teachers interacting with scholars in the classroom; but even better, encouraging the young scholars to come front and center, voicing their carefully considered opinions and really listening to one another.

If you’re a parent, Mission Possible provides a standard of excellence by which you should judge your own child’s school. If you’re a teacher or school administrator, let Mission Possible inspire you as it has me. We really are in a great profession. The amount of respect and support afforded teachers in the Success Academies is remarkable. We all deserve such a supportive workplace, just as all our kids deserve what great teachers and teaching can bring to them.

I’m raffling off a copy of Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work In Any School by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia. To enter, just leave a comment to this story below with a way to contact you (email preferred) by Friday, August 17th, 5pm EST.

Author and Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz is eager to connect with you via her Facebook Page or Twitter. Anyone involved in education will find her to be a fascinating resource.


  1. As a teacher in a charter school myself, I would be very interested to see what I can take from this book and apply in a few weeks!

    1. I think you would find it very interesting. Good luck!

  2. I'm a parent of one of Eva's scholars - and I have to say that I'm excited to start reading this book. You cannot imagine the change the school and especially the teachers and support staff have made in my shy quiet child in just a mere 2 years. He entered school literally shaking with anxiety and fear of communicating with adults and other children alike - to a vocal and social 'young man' of 7 years old! Then there is the education he is receiving - I cannot begin to gloat about how incredible it is and the high standards the school has for not only the scholars, but for the parents! I cannot wait till my daughter can enter in 2 years! She already knows so much from what my son is teaching her!!

    1. Wow--that's great to hear. So nice to hear your story. Do you already have a copy of the book? If not, send your email address and we'll add your name to the drawing.