Good Afternoon parents, students, school administrators, SRC members, and residents of the City of Philadelphia.
My name is Rafael Rodriguez-Charris and I am a senior of the Class of 2016 at Esperanza Academy. Since its inception, Esperanza Academy has been driven by excellence. The American Heritage Dictionary defines excellence as “the state, quality, or condition of excelling; superiority”. At the Academy, excellence is our pursuit. It is this common drive that we share as a community that we attribute to our success. The accomplishments of Esperanza Academy are not merely point in time data snapshots but are a reflection of our pursuit of this ideal. I have come to speak before you today to share with you our journey and highlight the hallmarks of the Academy’s achievement. It is this proven track record that will serve as the foundation to Esperanza Elementary Charter School. As an older brother to three elementary school aged children, ages 9, 7, and 5, I am personally invested in the efforts being made to advocate for the approval of the elementary school application.
Success at Esperanza Academy has not happened by chance but is a result of the intentional and purposeful assessment of student needs and responding to those needs quickly and efficiently. An example of this is the Academy’s intentional effort made to provide students with personalized support in order to increase proficiency scores which I believe contributes to our success in the area of student outcomes. For the past five consecutive years, Esperanza Academy students have had higher 11th grade Keystone/PSSA proficiency rates than our local neighborhood schools.
Esperanza Academy has an enrollment of 1433 students spanning grades 6-12. Twenty percent of Academy students are English language learners. I am originally from Colombia and transitioned to the United States only 4 years ago. From my personal experience, I can attest to how challenging it is to adjust to a new country, language, and culture while simultaneously being a student. Despite the obstacles an English Language Learner can face, at the Academy success is collectively shared by all. For four consecutive years, Esperanza Academy’s English Language Learner population has had higher 11th grade Keystone/PSSA proficiency rates than English Language Learners in the School District of Philadelphia and the state overall. Some years the Academy outperformed the state and the School District of Philadelphia by as much as 30 percentage points.
As I look ahead to planning my college career I am able to obtain valuable advice from our alumni. Since 2010, over 65% of Esperanza Academy graduates have gone onto college. Not only have Academy students enrolled into college 75% of Esperanza Academy graduates successfully complete their first year and return to college. This is 7% above the national average. It is statistics like these that compel me to not only boast of the opportunities I have gained as an Esperanza Academy student but also advocate for Esperanza Elementary Charter School.
As a student I have experienced the collective success of the Academy as well as personal achievement. By the time I graduate Esperanza, I will have completed 7 out of 9 Advanced Placement courses available to students. I have been on the CEO’s Honor Roll since my first semester. With the support of Academy staff I applied and was accepted to the Philadelphia Futures program in 2014. I am currently the President of Esperanza Academy’s chapter of the National Honor Society. I have benefitted from the individualized attention provided within the context of my culture. If I have been able to achieve so much in a two year span, how much more will my brothers Daniel, Kanner, and Matthew be able to achieve by having longer exposure to Esperanza? I believe that they should be given the opportunity to find out and ask for your support of Esperanza Elementary Charter School’s application.