Story

January 28, 2021

Reflections from a KIPP Texas Principal in Residence

Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to the right place. Justin White admits after he graduated from college, he had no clue what he wanted to do. He began working as a customer service representative, but when the company suddenly closed, a co-worker suggested he try teaching. 

“I joined Texas Teachers of Tomorrow and got certified. Even after I started, I wasn’t sure it was for me. My first year was horrific. I stayed because I fell in love with my students. They are the only reason I am still here,” said White, a 2020-2021 Principal in Residence cohort, at KIPP Texas-Dallas-Fort Worth’s Truth Middle School.

Nine years later, after spending four years as a middle school English, Language, Arts and Reading teacher and five years as an administrator, White knows he is exactly where he is supposed to be and doing what he was born to do.

“Each day, I get to ignite something inside of our students – their passions, their dreams, their talents. It’s the most rewarding part of this work. Educators are difference-makers. This is my purpose,” said White. 

He’s among the current class of cohorts in the KIPP Texas’ Principal in Residence Program (PIR), a highly selective residency designed to prepare high-performing, aspiring principals to be successful school leaders in the future. All participants are full-time, paid members of the school leadership team with daily opportunities to practice the skills and competencies required to lead high-achieving schools within the safety net of those who are proven.

Here’s an excerpt from his time in PIR. 

“This program…it’s made me realize so many things. It’s made me realize that I can’t be a true leader if I’m not living in my own truth; that inauthenticity unconsciously creates challenges of trust, and that in our schools, it’s vital we send the clear message that everyone is welcome here, that no one needs to hold themselves back, that vulnerability is how we grow. 

And I’ve realized that KIPP cares about making sure great people are in the right spot. That we are given opportunities to develop and thrive, not just because KIPP wants to be an exceptional organization, but because ultimately, we’re about kids. If the right people get the right training and experience, we will be ready to empower our students to finish high school and be prepared for college or career, whatever path they choose. The PIR program…it’s made me a better leader. It’s made me a better educator. And it’s made me a better person.”

For more information about our Principal in Residence Program, visit: https://kipptexas.org/principalinresidence/