The Story of Candy Bloise, Teacher at Democracy Prep Harlem Elementary School

Here in New York, there has always been a shared attitude among all of us to strive for the best of the best, especially for our families. Growing up in NYC and attending public schools here all my life, my teachers pushed me to be the best I could be. I call them my “game-changers.” They prepared me for all that was to come—in college, with my career, as a mother, and as a person.

After high school, I moved to England and studied theater while performing as a breakdancer. My son Reyes was born in England, and he originally started school there. However, I decided to move back to the US during the pandemic. In a world of so much uncertainty, I had to find the best school choice for my son. When I asked around for school recommendations, one name kept coming up: Democracy Prep.

When we first got back to New York, Reyes and I went to the park every day. He became friends with another boy and what do you know? His mom works at Democracy Prep! I told her about my background teaching dance, and she said, “If you ever want to try classroom teaching, give me a call!” Today, I am a proud teacher at Democracy Prep. And guess what? That same friend in the park is now my instructional coach! 

Once I started teaching at Democracy Prep, I enrolled Reyes in kindergarten here. Just like my teachers were game-changers for me, Reyes’s teachers at Democracy Prep have been game-changers for him.

When Reyes started school in England, I could tell that his teachers didn’t really push him—I knew that my son wasn’t reaching his full potential. For example, I noticed he was having trouble with his speech. However, within a month of being with Democracy Prep, his teacher zeroed in on that as an area for concern. She came to me, shared data showing where he needed extra help, and recommended evaluating him for speech therapy. 

The team at Democracy Prep helped put together a plan for getting him back on track. His teachers made sure he got the one-on-one time he needed, both in and out of class. On my breaks, I would poke my head into the lunchroom and see his teacher sitting with him working on his letters. With time and care, Reyes’s skills are now right on grade level and he’s acing his assessments. I am so grateful to the Democracy Prep team for helping my son and me.

It’s no wonder that Democracy Prep feels like a home to us. Every day, Reyes comes in and hugs all of his teachers; I greet my colleagues and feel ready to take on the day. It really does feel like a village here, which is so valuable to me as a working parent. We have teachers’ cell phone numbers and can contact them by email at any time. As a teacher, I do the same for my students’ parents!

Coming back to New York has been transformative for Reyes and me in a lot of ways. We have truly made a home here for ourselves and with the community at Democracy Prep. Reyes’s teachers have been game-changers for him and I’m proud to work with a team of educators who do the same for so many children.