Q&A with the first-ever KIPP alumna to become a KIPP School Leader
History in the making
This fall, the national KIPP network will witness a history-making moment as a former KIPP Texas student steps into the role School Leader of a KIPP school for the first time. Fabeah Adu-Oppong is her name, and helping our students reach their full potential is her game!
Fabeah’s KIPP Journey
Twenty years ago, Fabeah Adu-Oppong sat in the same seat that her students sit today. While she and her classmates were learning from hardcover textbooks in 1999 instead of the e-readers or iPads today, the lessons learned at KIPP remain the same. As a middle school student at KIPP Academy Middle School, she was curious, studious, and driven. As KIPP’s first-ever alumna to become a KIPP School Leader, she carries those same characteristics, infused with maturity and passion as she demonstrates her commitment to our Little KIPPsters.
This fall, Fabeah will take the lead as School Leader at KIPP Voyage Academy for Girls in Houston, a middle school with more than 325 students and 20 teachers. Fabeah returned to teach at KIPP after graduating from Dartmouth College in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology. That same year, Fabeah joined Teach For America officially becoming Ms. Adu-Oppong, a KIPP Sharpstown College Prep middle school science teacher. From 2011-15, she served in that role before becoming a blended learning interventionist in 2015-16. In 2017, she transitioned to Assistant Principal at KIPP Explore Academy serving as the Dean of 2nd and 4th grade until this year. After nine years of working at KIPP and making an impact, stepping into the role of School Leader is a meaningful next step in her leadership journey.
KIPP Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Richard Barth shared his reflections on Fabeah’s accomplishments.
“Fabeah’s path, from KIPP student all the way to KIPP School Leader, serves as a proofpoint of our belief that all students can, and will, achieve. She represents the legacy of the best parts of KIPP’s past, as well as the promise of hope for the future generation KIPPsters to come. Her passion for educational equity and her commitment to this work has been inspiring to watch,” said Barth. “We know she will continue to prove the possible in her new role as School Leader of KIPP Voyage Academy for Girls.”
We sat down with Fabeah to learn more about her early days as a KIPPster, her belief in this work, and her vision for the future.
Q: How do you think your time as a student at KIPP Academy influenced you to become an educator?
Adu-Oppong: We had some amazing teachers at KIPP Academy who not only taught me academically but showed me compassion, cared for me and helped shape me into the person I am today. This experience helped transform how I came to view my teachers because we spent so much time with them that they became like aunts and uncles in my life.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to be an educator and go back to KIPP?
Adu-Oppong: I decided in college after spending time volunteering in schools and taking education-geared classes. I realized that I enjoyed working with kids and wanted to give back to my community. I believed in Teach For America’s mission and felt really strongly that a student’s destiny shouldn’t be determined by where they lived or what school they attended.
Q: What is your vision for the students at KIPP Voyage Academy?
Adu-Oppong: KIPP Voyage’s mission is to empower young women to be self-respecting independent thinkers with the academic, character, and social skills necessary to thrive in, and graduate from the four-year college of their choice, as well as make meaningful contributions to their community and the world. I would say that my mission is very much aligned to KIPP Voyage’s.
I want to make sure our girls leave us knowing that their voice is important and they deserve to take up space. I want our girls to leave us knowing that they have the academic and character tools necessary to be strong and independent women.
Q: Do you think students today are facing the same obstacles you did when you were a child?
Adu-Oppong: The political landscape has changed since I was a child. The violence against black and brown bodies is much more public, and we have lawmakers who are more vocal about their disdain for our black and brown bodies even being present in America. I think some of that has always been there but nowadays it’s so sensationalized that our students internalize those messages. I used to believe that education will allow doors to open to all students, however, now I know that it takes a lot more than just education, and I think a lot of our kids know that too, which makes seeing education as the be all, end all really hard.
A Bright Future Ahead
The KIPP community celebrates Fabeah’s bold decision to lead a school of her own. The difference that education made in her life was tremendous, and she is proof that a ZIP code should never determine destiny. For her, the work is very personal, and her leadership of KIPP Voyage Academy will prove to be another pivotal step on her journey.