3.1 Million Students: KIPP’s Reach Extends

By Sarah Campbell, Senior Director of National-Local Leadership Development, KIPP Foundation

This post is the first of a series from the KIPP School Leadership Programs team to shed light on the professional development and collaboration taking place amongst a diverse group of education leaders from across the country.


At KIPP, we aim to continuously enhance and improve our leadership development practices and programs to meet the evolving needs of our network. Years ago, this aim resulted in adding the Pathways Programs (Leadership Team and Teacher Leader) to complement the Fisher Fellowship. In March, we kicked off the first session of our newest program, the KIPP Leadership Design Fellowship (KLDF).

Today, a growing number of KIPP regions are formally collaborating with their local districts to ensure that all children have access to a high quality education that will help them climb the mountain to college graduation. Exceptional school leadership–an outstanding school principal who attracts, trains, and develops fantastic teachers—has always been essential to KIPP’s success. With the help of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education and matching grant donors, KIPP was able to take a deliberate, formal approach to sharing our leadership development practices—how we find, train, and develop those outstanding principals—with district leaders beyond the KIPP Network.

The KIPP team designed the KLDF program to:

  • Share KIPP’s leadership practices. The in-person KLDF training summits are deliberately scheduled to coincide with national KIPP leadership development events, ensuring that the participants will not just hear what KIPP does, but will see our programs in action.
  • Model what we teach. Taught by KIPP’s own instructors, the KLDF sessions themselves demonstrate the high quality, engaging, adult learning that KIPP incorporates into all of its principal training programs.
  • Forge a community of like-minded leaders among the KLDF participants. The structure of KLDF aims to replicate the cohort-based learning model that KIPP utilizes in its other leadership training programs in order to encourage participants to build lasting relationships with each other—an expanded network of like-minded leaders.

In March, 32 fellows, representing public school districts, charter school systems, and education partner organizations from across the country, came together in Houston for three days to explore effective practices in principal recruitment, selection, and developing leadership pipelines. This meeting was the first of three summits in which the fellows will participate over the eight-month KLDF program. Throughout the three days, participants had the opportunity to:

1.  See KIPP practices in action

  • On the first day of the convening, the fellows visited KIPP SHINE Prep, KIPP Academy Middle School, and KIPP Houston High School. School Leader, Elliot Witney, welcomed the group before they set out on tours led by KIPP Houston staff and alumni. While on campus, fellows seized the opportunity to step inside and observe KIPP classrooms and instruction in action.
  • On the second day, the fellows attended the concurrent Fisher Fellowship Selection Event, and had the unique opportunity to sit-in and observe Fisher Fellowship selection interviews.

2.  Learn from KIPP instructors

  • Chief Learning Officer Kelly Wright shared an overview of the Fisher Fellowship selection process, preparing the fellows for their observations
  • Under the instruction of Leadership Coach Pam Moeller, the fellows used TinkerToys (yes, TinkerToys) to help them envision and explore the Leadership Competency Model for their specific education organization.

3.  Connect and engage with each other

  • Two partners presented their competency-aligned programs and leadership pipelines with the cohort – Rashidah Lopez Morgan of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Kathy Nadurak of New York City Leadership Academy – demonstrating shared principles in practice.
  • Fellows also took a deeper dive into their individual Action Learning Projects (the projects which will guide their participation throughout the eight-month fellowship) by collaborating on their proposed strategies for change management once they return to their organizations.

At the conclusion of the summit, both the fellows and KIPP Foundation staff felt energized at the prospect of change that could occur as a result of the Fellowship. The inaugural event was a huge success in promoting a community of practice for reform-minded education leaders; a collaboration that has the potential impact to 3.1 million students. We look forward to our next convening in June, in which the fellows will focus on training and developing their leaders!

We appreciate the generous support provided to KIPP School Leadership Programs (KSLP) through the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant and our matching donors. To learn more about this program, click here

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