Knowledge is Power for this education leader

ByAshley Eneriz
Female figure seen from the back in a KIPP hallway

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In South Los Angeles, only 8.2 percent of residents 25 and older have a four-year degree, according to the Los Angeles Times. Of adult residents, 49 percent have a high school diploma. Those numbers compare to just over a third nationwide who hold a bachelor’s degree and 83 percent who have graduated high school.

Tiffany (Porter ‘06) Moore, an Azusa Pacific University liberal studies graduate, noticed the lack of opportunities for students to receive a high-quality, college-preparatory education—and did something about it, finding real meaning in the phrase “knowledge is power.” Moore went from APU student to graduate to school leader at a charter school she founded in the span of a few years, finding that teaching young people and helping them reach their full potential was her ultimate calling.

“Sometimes people don’t expect [our students] to engage in academic discourse or have access and be able to read with an understanding of rich texts,” Moore says. “But they can do it, and kids want you to hold them to a high level.”

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough inspiring stories for teachers out there. But Moore’s story not only inspires—it proves that one teacher really can make a difference.

Knowledge Is Power

A teacher holds incredible power and influence in a student’s life. In fact, according to the American Federation of Labor, 88 percent of Americans have had a teacher who made a “significant positive impact” on their life; 98 percent believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student’s life.

While teaching students the necessary facts and skills to graduate is essential, one of the most important things a teacher can do is empower students with the knowledge that each child is a valuable human being, capable of achieving anything they set their mind to. The knowledge a teacher provides can positively shape a student’s life, as well as the lives of many in the broader community.

Case in point: In 2012, Moore founded KIPP Scholar Academy, a tuition-free public charter middle school in South Los Angeles. KIPP stands for the “Knowledge Is Power Program,” and Moore holds fast to that promise. In 2015, just three years after the school opened, its 400 students outpaced their peers in the neighborhood as well as the entire Los Angeles Unified School District. KSA students averaged a 37 on their English language arts Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium scores, compared to an average of 33 in the school district and 20 in the neighborhood. In math, KSA students averaged 28, compared to 25 across the district and 13 in the neighborhood.

A Solid Educational Start

Moore attributes her current success at KIPP Scholar Academy to her experiences in the classroom when she was a student at Azusa Pacific, where she connected her passion for teaching to her Christian faith. Today, Moore motivates her students, fully knowing they are created in the image of God, who has plans for each of their lives.

Moore says Paul Flores, Ph.D., director and professor of APU’s liberal studies program, and his Diversity in the Classroom course were pivotal in her development as a teacher. In the course, Flores teaches future educators how to interact with young students regardless of their culture, race, religion, and gender. He encourages his prospective teachers to work with elementary students alongside taking his courses, motivating them to see the God-given potential within each child.

Moore upholds a similar vision for KIPP Scholar Academy.

“A lot of the times we’re saying we’re holding (students’) hands while holding their feet to the fire,” she says. “We’re supporting them 100 percent, but at the same time, rigor is there, our expectations are there, and we’re not bringing them down. Because we love you, because we care about you, and because we see you as your highest self, our role is to make sure that you have the tools to get there.”

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