Reviews for Born To Rise : A Story of Children and Teachers Reaching Their Highest Potential
Booklist Reviews 2012 June #1
Kenny has been a freethinker since adolescence, when she eschewed the regular path to success of a career in law or medicine. She was more intrigued by a search for ideals. When her husband died of leukemia, she was left to raise their three children, but she took the risk of leaving her corporate job and its security to invest in creating a charter school in Harlem. The idea was to offer children from disadvantaged backgrounds the same quality of education as privileged children in the suburbs. Kenny offers an inspiring account of the long, hard journey to develop the Harlem Village Academies, whose students are among the highest-achieving in the nation. She chronicles the 10 years it took to fully develop the school, from the early machinations to secure charters from the state of New York to the search for dedicated staff and parents looking for the best opportunities for their children to finding funders interested in investing in a "model to redesign the U.S. school system." This inspiring book is part memoir and part blueprint for education reform. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #1
Inspirational account of a woman beating the odds to open quality schools for low-income families in Harlem. In 2001, Kenny, who has a doctorate in comparative international education, created what would become Harlem Village Academies--even though the venture made no sense to her family and friends. A young widow with three children at home, the author had no charter school experience, no building to use for classrooms, no specific plan and little money. She did know enough to realize that without fundraising success, she would never obtain charters from education regulators. However, raising money was extremely difficult without a state charter in hand. Nonetheless, Kenny felt compelled to proceed for reasons she didn't fully understood. The book is partly memoir; the story of the charter school doesn't appear until approximately 50 pages in. The author begins with a chronicle of her husband's death from cancer, followed by the story of her innovative thinking as a business executive, including her stint as group president of Sesame Street Publishing. Kenny shares the development of her thinking about her hoped-for charter school, with its emphasis on building a faculty of the best teachers available in the K-12 range. The parents of the children completed applications, and the spots were filled by an independently run lottery. Although many of the students are lagging below the norm in reading and other subjects, a high percentage of them have shown marked improvement as Kenny's charter schools have refined teaching and learning techniques. A mostly upbeat book that explains many of the obstacles to success while often glossing over those obstacles and the negative outcomes accompanying the admirable successes. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 April #3
One woman's tragedy turns into triumph for hundreds of Harlem schoolchildren in Kenny's personal and professional memoir of founding the Harlem Village Academies, a successful group of charter schools that serve some of New York City's neediest students. After losing her husband, an exemplary man she considered to be "born to a higher purpose," to leukemia, Kenny sought--and found--her own purpose by creating a set of phenomenal inner-city schools where teachers could be treated like true professionals, banking on her belief that "a focus on talent is the one thing that will fix public education in America." Inspired by educators and reformers such as Jonathan Kozol and Geoffrey Canada, Kenny wanted to create schools that would give all students access to the sorts of educational privileges she and her own children had known. Though the pace slows as Kenny flounders to discern her vision and spends long months working on planning and funding for the schools, 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. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC