Luis Nobriga

Luis Nobriga, Principal, KIPP Courage Academy

Luis Nobriga, Principal, KIPP Courage Academy

KIPP Courage Academy (KCA) has five school values: courage, community, purpose, perseverance, and love.

For me, these aren’t just catchy words. Each value has a deep meaning that has carried me through my early days in the education field to my position now as principal of KCA.

First, love. I can remember being a junior in high school, right here in my home state of Florida. I felt tons of doubt and fear about my college journey. I questioned if I’d be able to get into a good college—or get into college at all—and unfortunately, there were people in my life validating these fears. But it was the encouragement and love of one of my teachers that made all the difference. She was one of the few Latina teachers I had, and she made it abundantly clear that she believed in my greatness; that I could and would get into a good college. Her words and spirit of confidence led me to attend and graduate from the University of Florida. After college, I joined Teacher for America, and, years later, pursued KIPP’s leadership development training to prepare me to found and lead my own school.

On this leadership journey, other KCA values came into play: perseverance, community, purpose. Principal training was long, rigorous work that focused a ton on self-development and relationship building. Through it, I gained a better understanding of myself and my strengths as a leader. Being part of a cohort of leaders from across the country and having access to a leadership coach was transformative. There were times, especially in the first two years as principal, when I felt overwhelmed and on the verge of quitting. Having a coach who validated my experiences and provided actionable strategies kept me grounded and motivated.

Lastly, I’ll speak on courage. It’s cemented in my school’s name, in the hallways, in our classrooms. And, it’s what I constantly practice to make each day and each school year better than the last. KCA opened at the height of the pandemic in 2020, and without courage, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I know that it takes courage and endurance for my teachers to return to their positions each year. I take great pride in being a coach to them, celebrating small wins, and recognizing big-picture improvements we’ve seen in our student’s results quarter over quarter. It’s incredibly fulfilling to support teachers as they step into leadership roles, overcome impostor syndrome, and grow.

I strive to give my students the courage to believe their future holds more open doors than closed ones. A beautiful experience I’ve had this past year is practicing morning affirmations with a small group of students. “I trust the process of growth and learn from mistakes,” “when crazy things are thrown at me, I choose to face them with calmness,” we say. I’m here to make sure they and every one of my students know they have the power to take their life into their own hands.

When I started KCA, my vision was to build a great school where people really enjoy teaching and learning. Nearly five years in, and with many years to come, it’s incredible to see this vision come to life.


Luis is the founding school principal of KIPP Courage Academy, a middle school part of KIPP Miami Public Schools. He is also the founder of Feed the Lion, providing one-on-one and small-group coaching to other leaders and educators.

Leadership development at KIPP