KIPP teaches kids how to chill

ByOmar Jimenez

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Learning life’s lessons doesn’t always come from the confines of a classroom. One program teaches kids lessons outside the school walls in a chill way from a classroom to a mountain.

“When we first pulled in, you can just see a huge mountain, and then you’re thinking, like, ‘I know we’re not going up there.’ When you first start off, it’s simple and then it’s just that heel, it goes, and the wind keeps hitting your face. You get nervous,” KIPP Academy eighth-grader Tyree Davis said.

The nerves would soon fade. Davis is part of a program called Chill. It takes kids like Davis from Baltimore City to Liberty Mountain in Pennsylvania to learn snowboarding, but also learn so much more along the way.

“It was a feeling like destiny,” Davis said. “At first, I didn’t know what persistence was, but once we went over it and kept on trying over and over, it was a lot more similar to optimism, which we talk about in KIPP.”

Davis’ fifth-grade teacher not only thought he’d be the perfect candidate then but also saw a future.

“After I saw how he struggled with the skill but kept pushing harder, and I saw how much it benefited him both at Chill on the mountain and in the classroom. I knew he was going to be my peer leader the next year,” teacher William Stapleton said.

More than three years later, Davis is not only the peer leader, he’s the lead peer leader.

“You have someone to relate to who’s been in your position, and it’s very helpful,” Davis said.

“And that’s you?” WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Omar Jimenez asked.

“Yep,” Davis said.

“For the children to experience a situation unlike one that they’ve been living in is just priceless. All of us that work with Chill get as much out of it as we put into it,” social worker Mary Hodorowicz said.

It’s work that pays off, exemplified by a 13-year-old hoping to pass along his message of persistence.