Looking back over the first semester, I’m thrilled to say that what I saw on the campuses makes me even more convinced that YES Prep has developed the best overall model for educating students from low-income communities.
Our model has grown with us. Even as YES Prep has gone from one school to a thriving system of 11 schools, some things have remained constant. We have never wavered from our mission of helping students from low-income communities earn college degrees. We have stood strong in our core values. And we have stayed true to our program model, resisting the temptation to jump from fad to fad – instead we’ve created our own fads.
Now, as we are looking forward to our next phase of growth, I want to share the top two reasons why I believe that YES Prep must continue to grow and play a larger role in the education reform movement.
1) Serve More Students
First, YES Prep’s quality gives us a moral obligation to serve more students. YES Prep is doing a better job at educating students from low-income communities than any other school system I have ever seen. We can and must bring these practices to more students—both by serving more students in our schools, and by spreading and sharing our practices to other systems, such as in our North Forest and Spring Branch partnerships.
2) Shatter Mindsets
Secondly, because it is in our DNA to be constantly challenging ourselves and raising the bar not just for our own schools but for schools that haven’t even heard of YES. There are districts around the country that now look to us as a model for excellence. We are literally changing mindsets about what students from low-income communities are capable of achieving just by existing. With every student that we send off to college – college ready, we force districts across the nation to ask “what do we have to do to get results like this.”
In thinking about the vision for the future of YES Prep, I hope you remember one word and that word is “possible.” Possible is the word that drove Chris Barbic to start this organization in 1998 when everybody else said he was crazy. It’s the word that inspired every person on our team to join us, and it is the one word that has unified YES since the beginning. Our staff works here not because we think different outcomes are possible for our students, but because we KNOW they are when they have great teachers and opportunities to succeed. What is so exciting about growing is that every time we do this, we give more students access to a high quality education AND we silence the critics about what our kids are capable of achieving. I have seen what is possible and I am excited to share it as we continue to grow.