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In survey, Success Prep students, teachers say school has supportive environment

The Success Preparatory Academy board heard the results of a schoolwide survey on social and emotional learning at its meeting on Thursday.

The survey, which addresses attitudes and relationships among students and teachers, was conducted by Patrick Bell, a psychology Ph.D. student at Tulane University.

Bell said researchers have concluded that students’ social and emotional development is “interdependent” with academic performance.

“This is sort of psychology’s ‘A ha’ finding that we’re trying to get going in schools,” he said.

Success Prep is the only school with an initiative to promote this type of development among its students, Bell said.

The survey asked students and teachers about self-awareness, the school’s culture and relationships with others.

According to the results, 87 percent of students said they believe that teachers care about their success, and 89 percent said they felt they could do a good job at school.

Meanwhile, 91 percent of teachers said they could rely on their colleagues, and 89 percent said the staff works together to improve.

Bell told the board the school had high marks. “When you look at Chicago Public Schools, they’re not getting numbers this high,” he said.

With the survey results in hand, Bell said he would put together focus groups of students and teachers to work on areas that need improvement.

The school also was the only one locally to be visited recently by education expert Julie Jackson. Currently managing director of Uncommon Schools, Jackson led the nationally recognized North Star network of schools in Newark, N.J.

“It’s like Warren Buffett coming,” said School Director Niloy Gangopadhyay.

Jackson gave feedback to teachers and staff during the two-day visit in mid-February. Gangopadhyay said the school likely will look back on the visit as a “game-changing moment.”

The school also had a positive budget report. As a result of the Orleans Parish School Board’s miscalculation of 2011-12 sales tax revenue, Success Prep received an additional $81,000, said Director of Finance and Operations Dan O’Connell.

The school will use most of the extra money to fund a new academic interventionist to help “students who are on the brink,” O’Connell said. Another $25,000 of it will go toward school supplies.

The board’s next meeting is March 19.

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