Richard Barth's Weekly Thoughts: Sharing Great Victories

By Richard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO

In a year like no other, back-to-school season is in full swing. In a world in which so many have been struggling to make decisions, our KIPP Team and Family has shown what it means to listen to health experts, listen to our families and students, adapt to new information and then GO. I have truly never been prouder to work at KIPP. I have watched all of you turn on a dime as new insights called us to adapt, and every time you have put the well-being of our students front and center. As with other weeks, today I get to share with you all a few ways in which our Team and Family are meeting this moment. I know it is just a small glimpse – but it conveys that at KIPP we find a way or make one. The love we have for our KIPPsters and the commitment we have all made to offer an academically excellent education leads us to be an unstoppable force. We should all be prepared for more twists and turns – let’s make sure to keep leaning on each other so that we can be a constant in our students lives.

Some of our regions, like New Orleans and Nashville, began classes this week. Others, like Jacksonville and Delta, are beginning next week. And many regions, including Washington D.C., Atlanta and New Jersey, have started professional development in preparation for the beginning of classes.

Here are a few highlights from around the country:

Texas

In Texas, starting on August 3, 479 new teachers and instructional coaches participated in KIPP Texas Houston’s Energize U: Inspired Learning. Inspired Lives. Teachers and Coaches engaged in 5 days of asynchronous and synchronous sessions. At Energize U, teacher and coaches attended sessions that included

  • Defining the college-ready bar for their course.
  • Analyzing key moves that impact strong teacher preparation on execution.
  • Articulating that academics and culture together make a strong classroom culture, by learning, practicing, and mastering four teacher moves that support in building strong classroom culture.
  • Special Educators studied the foundations of transformative IEPs and eSPED to help them manage essential processes and programming at their school sites.

Huge kudos to all of the Academics team members who coordinated the Energize U sessions!

Nashville

Like many KIPP regions, Nashville is starting the school year all-virtual. The region’s teachers have spent 2,670 hours practicing online teaching and the staff has prepped 2,828 supply bags for our KIPPsters. They will conduct biweekly surveys of teachers and families to gauge how remote learning is going by asking questions like “Is your child’s school meeting your needs? What praise, ideas or questions do you have? What needs or concerns do you have? Can you easily access the learning tools your child needs on a daily basis?” The staff has also been distributing meals at schools and through bus routes, and setting up teachers and families for remote learning, including holding virtual townhalls and orientation sessions for students and families.

Meanwhile, KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary School teachers got creative with their beginning-of-the-year meet-and-greet with students! To stay safe and socially-distanced while seeing each other in person, teachers lined up outside the school with shirts showing what grade they teach, and students got to wave to them as they drove past.

Jacksonville

Our team in Jacksonville will be welcoming students back to school starting Monday. Our academics and operational leaders have spent hundreds of hours getting ready for this moment. If you have any friends there, please send them some positive energy. Teachers and staff have been working so hard to create a reopening plan that is as safe as possible for students, while simultaneously developing backup plans for virtual instruction if needed. Led by Dr. Jennifer Brown, our team understood that communicating often and thoroughly is more important than ever this year, and to help families get a sense of what to expect for the start of the school year, the region developed a video you can watch above and information guide. You got this team Jax!

Welcome to the 2020-2021 Fisher Fellows and Principals in Residence

I’m thrilled to announce this year’s cohort of the Fisher Fellowship and the Principals in Residence (PIR) who will be

opening schools in the fall of 2021! Fisher Fellows began virtual programming in June and, in August, will give their formal School Launch Plan Presentation to regional leaders about the schools they are opening in 2021. PIRs are kicking off their in-region residencies where they will progress through a roadmap of development skills designed to ensure they are ready to step into the school leader seat. I can’t wait to see these leaders in action — I’m so inspired by their commitment and passion!

KTC Texas Job Opportunity

The Texas team is looking to fill the position of Deputy Chief of KIPP Through College and Career.The KTC Deputy chief will be responsible for working with other KIPP Texas statewide and regional leaders, ensuring close coordination between KIPP Texas high schools and KTC teams, building strategic partnerships, and implementing rigorous progress monitoring processes to improve KIPP Through College performance.

The KIPP Texas Deputy Chief of KIPP Through College and Career will lead a team of four regional KTC Directors, who in turn supervise a statewide team who manage regional staff; manage and develop the KTC Director team; and maintain strong relationships to ensure robust collaboration statewide. The KIPP Texas Deputy Chief of KIPP Through College and Career will directly report to a Chief to be later announced, and to the KIPP Texas CEO in the interim.

If you know anyone who might be interested in the role, please check out this link.

Many of you have shared how much it has meant to be able to lean on each other as you’ve prepared for a launch like no other. We all have each other’s backs. Team beats individual. And, let’s share our great victories with each other.

Let’s make it a great day for our KIPPsters!

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