Principal heralded for KIPP Bridge Academy's success

By Frank Mallicoat

OAKLAND, Calif. – KIPP Bridge Academy’s Michael Burks is not the quiet type.

Every school day the West Oakland Principal greets every TK through 4th grader with a personal touch.

There are 269 students at the school and Burks knows every one of their names.

“I want my kids waking up wanting to be at school,” said Brooks.

It’s all part of the KIPP Bridge Academies mantra. It starts with a sense of belonging coupled with knowledge and growth. But, the 34-year-old Burks believe it must all come showered in joy if you want to build a strong and successful community of learning.

“As a Black man working with Black and Brown children we talk about an achievement gap. But there’s also a belief gap. A lot of things in this world are created structurally in ways where we get communicated as we get told,” said Burks. “So we start to believe that we can’t, and we have to start with making sure that we believe that we can, and children know that. And feeling joy with what we’re doing is being invested in the work that we are doing.”

Burks’ positivity is contagious, and not just the students.

Teacher Brianna Roberts feels it every day.

“He is a nurturer. He is funny. He is smart, and he loves the kids, and you can feel that. He embraces each and every person no matter who they are no matter where they come from with love and peace,” said Roberts. “It’s an honor to work with him because it doesn’t feel like a job it feels like a community a friendship and family.”

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