By Whitney Grese Hanna, Math is Life Consultant and Former KIPP Teacher
I’ve been part of the KIPP Team and Family since 2001, when I started teaching fifth grade math, thinking skills and writing at KIPP Academy in the Bronx. Back then, there were two schools, with three more just about to open their doors. KIPP was only beginning its impressive and rapid growth, and there wasn’t a common opportunity for professional development. I was lucky, because I went to work every day and learned everything I could about teaching math from Dave Levin, David Nieder, and Frank Corcoran, but most KIPP teachers were starting in new schools, where the support system just wasn’t as developed yet.
Fast forward to 2003 when about 300 big KIPPsters gathered in Key Biscayne, Florida for the first KIPP School Summit (KSS). There was no dedicated team of KSS staff, and no one knew quite what to expect. I found out the week before that almost all of the math teachers would be in a room with me for the day, learning about fifth grade math, and the way we teach it at KIPP. We chanted and sang, and debated the most effective ways to teach things. We ended our math strand with an open-mic session, where teachers got to share the songs or chants they had made up for their KIPPsters. It was a great time.
All these years later, you can’t just gather everyone from a single content area into one room, and there are no six-hour sessions led by one crazy math teacher. While I miss the intimacy of that relatively small group, it’s amazing what we get out of KSS now. Because we’re a large organization, we now have the ability to bring in big names in professional development, people who have worked for decades on their craft, and there are so many choices on the program that it’s always tough to decide where to go. It’s a bigger, better KSS in so many ways.
I’m really looking forward to another KSS, my third in Las Vegas. (Even though we are bigger, our budget still keeps us in the warmest locations at the height of summer.) I hope to see lots of new faces in my sessions on Building Number Sense in the Elementary Classroom (K-4), and Getting Kids to Explain their Thinking with Mathematical Evidence (5-8), and I hope to welcome past attendees, too. And outside of my sessions, I’m ready to learn from all the amazing presenters who will be joining us, whether they’re KIPPsters themselves or not. KSS is where I first learned my Love & Logic skills, where I decided I really could be a coach of teachers, and it’s where I return every year to reunite with old friends who continue to passionately believe that Knowledge is Power. The personal connections you make at KSS keep you going all year-long.
We are so fortunate that so many of us have the opportunity to come together and learn, to recharge our batteries, and to enjoy a week that celebrates what’s possible in all of our communities. It’s a week to dream big about where the year will take you and your students, and it’s not to be missed. Viva la KIPP!
To learn more about KIPP School Summit, click here >