By Richard Barth, Chief Executive Officer, KIPP Foundation
As of today, KIPP is serving nearly 70,000 students in 183 schools across the country. Of those schools, 21 are opening their doors for the first time this year!
Today I want to highlight four schools, the communities they are serving, and their founding leaders. Their stories are very different, but they are united by a common goal: to make sure every child has access to an education that opens doors of opportunity.
Teaching Students How to “Tinker”
KIPP Destiny Middle School (Dallas, TX)
As a Dallas public school student, Esmeralda Cardoso got lucky. Her teachers helped her get into a magnet high school with a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program. She went on to major in electrical engineering; as an immigrant and a woman of color, she saw she was an exception in her field. Dallas students who didn’t go to magnet schools—including her siblings—were missing out on a great STEM education.
Esmeralda is opening KIPP Destiny Middle School, where students will learn to “tinker” through the kinds of programs normally found at selective schools. They’ll have a robotics program, do regular science experiments, and discover math principles on their own. Esmeralda wants to show her students what people who look like them can achieve, starting with her own staff. “It’s important that our students see our leadership team being men and women of color,” she says. The faculty also includes a KIPP alum: science teacher Jozlyn Hall, who was in KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth’s first fifth-grade class.
Meeting a Hidden Need in Silicon Valley
KIPP Excelencia Community Prep (Redwood City, CA)
You might not think that Silicon Valley would have demand for a KIPP school. But on the eastern side of Redwood City, not everyone has access to a great education. Across the street from the nation’s most expensive zip code is North Fair Oaks, an underserved community with the district’s lowest-performing schools. Three years ago, two parents—Maritza Leal and Enrique Esparza—began borrowing a church van to drive students to a charter school in the next county. Then they started organizing.
When Kyle Shaffer attended a school action night last year, he walked into a room full of 300 parents pleading for better school options. Determined to partner with families to deliver the great education their children deserve, Kyle is opening the KIPP Bay Area’s first K-8 school, KIPP Excelencia Community Prep. Parents are excited to enroll their children in Kindergarten and know they’ll be getting a rigorous, college-prep education all the way through eighth grade.
Opening a School Closer to Home
KIPP Forrest City College Prep (Forrest City, AR)
Growing up in rural Helena, Arkansas, Marcus Nelson excelled in school. But when he got to college, he realized that his education had not prepared him, and he took longer than expected to graduate. That inspired him to return to his hometown to teach at KIPP Delta College Prep. “I had to go back and make sure my experience didn’t happen to other kids coming up,” he says.
KIPP Delta schools attract students from miles away. Middle school students from Forrest City, eager for a college-prep education, were traveling 45 miles each way by bus to get to the KIPP school in Helena. Marcus saw how determined they were to learn; now he is opening KIPP Forrest City College Prep, so these students won’t have to leave their hometown to get a great college-prep education. Marcus and his team designed their school to be a source of stability and community for students, including a restorative justice program that addresses student behavior in a collaborative way.
Making Spanish a Priority
KIPP Promesa Prep (Los Angeles, CA)
Adriana Rodriguez grew up in a California border town, and learned English in elementary school. After college, she was drawn to East Los Angeles, teaching students from similar backgrounds to hers. Working at KIPP Raíces Academy, she witnessed huge demand for great elementary schools, with hundreds of families turned away in KIPP’s enrollment lotteries. Inspired by KIPP Raíces founder Amber Medina, she wanted to give them another option.
With KIPP Promesa Prep, Adriana is bringing a KIPP elementary school to the neighborhood of Boyle Heights. The school uses a blended learning model, combining small-group instruction and computer practice. Because so many students lose their Spanish fluency, or feel ashamed that their parents don’t speak English, KIPP Promesa emphasizes literacy in both languages. “We serve 99 percent Latino students, and they’re losing their language because it’s not prioritized,” Adriana says. Every KIPP Promesa student has daily Spanish instruction, helping them speak and write with pride in two languages.
Congratulations to Esmeralda, Kyle, Marcus, and Adriana, along with all their fellow leaders opening schools this fall!
To learn more about KIPP’s new schools opening in 2015, visit our School Directory >