By Sarah Elizabeth Gonzales, Kindergarten Spanish Teacher Apprentice, KIPP Austin
Recently I’ve been thinking about what my life would be like if I hadn’t decided to work at KIPP. I mostly think about it when I get up every morning at 5:00 am. I’m not the best morning person; however, it is uncanny how thinking about the beautiful children waiting to learn puts me in a good mood regardless of the early hour. Before I worked at KIPP I was managing youth programs and coaching soccer for a private indoor soccer facility. Needless to say, the hours were a bit different. After adjusting to the new schedule here at KIPP, I enjoy working hard and seeing all the progress our KIPPsters make due to their own hard work.
Adjusting to a new schedule was something that both the children and I had to accomplish together. A couple of months in, I’m proud to share that my kindergarteners are now champions who power through our extended school day. I have noticed as more and more of them begin to read, a glimmer forms in their eyes as if they have unlocked the secret answer to some ancient riddle. In some manner, they have. The ability to read independently is part of our goal this year and as they continue to grow and build this skill, I imagine all the reading they are going to do on their climb to and through college.
Not only are these students going to read a lot in English, they are going to read a lot in Spanish. Each student at KIPP Austin is learning to read, write, listen, and speak in two languages. There aren’t many things as satisfying as a child’s first complete sentence in their second language. Even if it is something as simple as, “Can I go to the bathroom?” or “¿Puedo ir al baño?”
While the teachers and students here at KIPP Austin Comunidad are making great strides every day, I do think about all the other children in our community. Countless children are in programs where they aren’t given these opportunities. I think about the same light behind their eyes that hasn’t turned on yet. I think about the little ones who have so much to say in Spanish yet remain silent. Thinking about this, I realize how inspired I am by our school principal, Justin Scott, who had the vision to create a dual-language school to meet the needs of our community here in Austin. What if all school leaders had the power to innovate? One day I feel like this will be a reality. Until then I’m looking forward to more early mornings, late evenings and bright eyes!