Three years into KIPP's student teacher pipeline program, students thrive in the classroom

By Marie Fazio

Twelve years ago, Alyana Jefferson was a kindergarten student in Cherelyn Poe’s KIPP Central City classroom, learning to read and do basic math.

Now a senior at Booker T. Washington High School, Jefferson has a different role in the same classroom: She’s helping teach Poe’s students, which Poe calls her “crimson crawfish.”

Last year, Jefferson’s teachers identified her as a potential candidate for teaching: she’s dedicated, has strong leadership skills and is respected and trusted by her peers. So she enrolled in an education class where she spent the first few months of the school year learning how to be a teacher and think critically about equity in education.

Then, Jefferson and her classmates were sent down the street to classrooms at KIPP Central City.

“I didn’t want to be a teacher,” Jefferson said. “But once you actually take the class and teach hands-on you realize it’s about the children. You don’t have to be a doctor to make a difference, to save someone’s life.”

Solution to teacher shortage?

Three years ago, KIPP New Orleans launched the alumni teacher force, a first-of-its-kind program in New Orleans that selected high schoolers to teach younger students. The program has since expanded to include about 15 John F. Kennedy High School students who teach at Hynes French Immersion – UNO, in addition to the Booker T. Washington students. After graduating from college, the students are guaranteed a job at KIPP, creating a pipeline back to KIPP.

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