KIPP Texas Families,
I hope our KIPP Texas mothers, moms-to-be, and mother figures had a great Mother’s Day weekend. You are incredible and deserve to be celebrated for the work you do in front of and behind the scenes. I enjoyed my special day with my family and wouldn’t trade those new memories for the world!
Interim Chief Academic Officer Named
Last Month, I shared that Dan Caesar will become KIPP Texas’ first Chief Schools Officer while we were still in the midst of interviews for the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) position. We sought someone to fill the CAO role who can strengthen our Academic strategy so that our schools can deliver on excellent outcomes for KIPPsters.
I am pleased to share that, again, our undeniable internal talent at KIPP Texas has shined bright. After a rigorous internal and external interview process, we are naming longtime Big KIPPster, Dr. Rona Simmons as the interim Chief Academic Officer, beginning July 1, 2023. Dr. Simmons is Interim because the interview process remains open, with final selection taking place later this Fall. Rona is our lone, priority internal candidate, and we are excited about the skill and experience she can bring to this critical time while we finalize the process.
In 2018, Dr. Simmons made the decision to join the KIPP Texas Team and Family. Since then, she has served as a School Leader Manager, Managing Director of KTX Middle Schools, and the Deputy Chief of Academic Recovery. Today, nearly two decades after stepping foot into her first classroom as a teacher, Dr. Simmons continues to honor her commitment to children and families. In every role, she consistently demonstrates a keen ability to lead with humility, inspire others, re-imagine what is possible for children, and, most importantly, ensure we achieve outstanding academic results for Little KIPPsters. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her fill this interim position!
The talent within KIPP Texas is boundless. I am thankful we could promote from within KIPP Texas and that we have a culture that encourages and celebrates our teammates to grow, try new things, and step into new, challenging roles. We are Persisting with Purpose. I thank our KTX team for their unwavering support, care, and leadership. The best is yet to come. We are on our way to “A”!
Next KTX-Houston Regional Superintendent Named
When we announced that long-time Houston leader, Dan Caesar, was named our founding Chief Schools Officer beginning July 1, it also meant this shift required someone to fill the KIPP Texas-Houston Regional Superintendent position. I am thrilled to share that we have named long-time KIPPster and proud Little KIPPster dad Frank Cush as the KIPP Texas-Houston Regional Superintendent.
Frank first joined KIPP Houston in 2007 as a 2nd-grade teacher and Miles Family Fellow at KIPP SHINE, working with the Class of 2018, our first set of primary Little KIPPsters in the nation. He went on to serve as the founding school leader of KIPP Explore Academy on the East End campus. It was there he honed his craft and developed his passion for serving our littlest KIPPsters. Over the years, Frank continued to excel in teaching and inspecting instructional excellence.
Outside of the classroom, Frank is a tremendous partner to many when solving day-to-day school management matters and an exemplary coach. During his time as head of schools, he has coached school leaders at eleven of the fourteen KIPP Texas-Houston campuses. Frank is committed to leadership development as he helped to coach seven of his former teachers at KIPP Explore Academy to later become KIPP Texas-Houston school leaders. He’s also an avid youth baseball coach in both the East End and Southeast communities of Houston.
Frank will work alongside Dan over the next few weeks before officially starting in his new role on July 3. Please join me in congratulating Frank!
Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Awardees
It was an extra eventful Teacher Appreciation Week for three KIPP Texas teachers! I am excited to announce our 2023 Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award winners. Each Harriet Ball awardee was surprised with a $10,000 check!
Edith Gonzalez – KIPP Texas Dream Prep
Miguel Fernandez – KIPP Texas Connect Houston Primary
Danielle White – KIPP University Prep High School
Harriett Ball was the master teacher who inspired the creation of KIPP, and each year, KIPP honors her legacy nationally by selecting ten teachers who go above and beyond, setting the standard for excellence in KIPP schools across the nation. Congratulations, Edith, Miguel, and Danielle, for Chasing Excellence and receiving this incredible honor.
School Operations Week #OpsDontStop
We couldn’t operate our schools without our fantastic ops team, so we’ve dedicated a special week designated to celebrating their work! Operations Appreciation Week focuses on school-based operations and our Assistant Principal of Operations (APOs) Big KIPPsters, celebrating their contributions to our schools and the KIPPster experience. From attendance (ADA), safety, student enrollment, customer service, transportation, team management and more, our Ops team is creating conditions for schools to thrive by ensuring that KIPPsters are welcomed and cared for in clean, safe, and efficiently managed schools. Thank you to our 57 APOs and our 600+ Ops team members across the state. We love you! Check out this video as a tribute to our team
With only 15 days left to go, the Texas Legislature in its final sprint of the legislative session. This is the time when deadlines are coming quickly, and lawmakers are scrambling to finalize negotiations and get their proposals across the finish line. Unless a special session is called, once this session ends the Texas Legislature will not convene again until January 2025. A special session can be called by the Governor at any time and for any purpose, is limited to thirty days, and is confined to topics assigned by the Governor.
It is not too late to get engaged in this process! Click “Video Broadcasts” here to watch your government in action for the next two weeks. There is still time to sign up for alerts on legislation relating to public charter schools like KIPP Texas. Looking for information on a topic of interest to you? Our Community Impact team is happy to help you navigate the Texas Legislature Online system, and you can reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We made it, KIPP Texas families and Little KIPPsters! STAAR testing is behind us, and we are now beginning the celebration to end a successful school year. Let’s celebrate our Little KIPPsters and the hard work each of our Big KIPPSters has put in this school year. We started the school year with our theme of Bringing Joy, and despite the challenges and obstacles we have faced in our schools and the community, each time I step into a classroom, I know I will leave its doors with a smile and inspiration. Thank you for creating these brave and belonging spaces where joy emanates.
I will end this note with this video to make your week joyful!
CEO of KIPP Texas