As a passionate believer, I am pleased to comment on this beautifully written book by James Tooley, "From Village School to Global Brand". Once I received my copy, it was hard to put it down.
As an aside, the history of my relationship with SABIS goes back to 2003 and was "biblical" in its formation. In New Orleans, the predecessor school, Milestone Academy was struggling to fulfill its mission to provide a quality education for under-served urban kids. Because the school was underachieving academically, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (The BESE Board) was considering pulling public funds from the school and shutting it down. At the same time, SABIS was making its bid to operate a Charter School in New Orleans. Rather than shutting down Milestone, our district Board Member proposed a brilliant compromise - marry Milestone and SABIS and restructure the new Board. The surviving organization became the Milestone/SABIS Academy.
My first experience with the SABIS curriculum was on my trip to Springfield, Massachusetts. In the Book, Mr. Tooley explained what an academic juggernaut the Springfield School became. The school was extremely well run. The campus was immaculate and I came to understand why the school was touted as one of the best in the State. I was impressed!
The new Board in New Orleans took on, what appeared to be a daunting mission - to educate kids in an urban system that was failing in every aspect. First, our teachers had to learn the proven SABIS methodologies that I saw so effectively implemented in Springfield. Secondly, we had to create a safe and disciplined environment for both the teachers and the kids - an environment that would allow the teachers to teach! Attracting teachers might have been a problem because salaries were not comparable to the Public Schools, nor were they protected by the Union. But what we found were dedicated teachers who did not want to be "baby sitters", but people who wanted to teach. They saw what we on the Board saw, a system that was uncompromising in its ability to deliver a quality education to every kid it served. The culmination of my SABIS experience was meeting Mr. Ralph Bistany. Mr. Bistany was amazing in his passion. I'll never forget his meeting with our Board as he gave us a glimpse into his vision for the school and showed us how a Master Teacher would teach Mathematics. He then invited the entire Board to dinner at Byblos Mediterranean Restaurant on Magazine Street in New Orleans, where he ordered everything on the menu so that we might have a taste of what Lebanese cuisine was. He was obviously very proud of his Lebanese heritage, rightfully so - the food was delicious. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina derailed our efforts in New Orleans.
Congratulations to the founders and all of the members of the SABIS family. "From Village School to Global Brand" is a story that needed to be told. The book highlights the fact that education is truly the "Great Equalizer". Congratulations as well to Mr. Tooley for illuminating and sharing this remarkable story.