You feel it the moment you walk in the doors. A sense of warmth, of joy, of community. There is an energy to KIPP Austin Obras that is infectious. Everywhere you look, students and teachers are laughing, happy to be in each other’s company. At a recent arrival, even the youngest kinder students waved quick goodbyes to family members and hopped out of cars with smiles on their faces. “Everyone likes being here,” Assistant Principal Carla Martinez says, “and it’s not a show. It’s real. The teachers and students here care, and care deeply, about one another.” Because of that strong culture, KIPP Austin Obras has become a community where everyone — teachers and students alike — collaborate, build each other up, and push one another to new heights.
KIPP Austin Obras was founded on the belief that all students deserve a rigorous, high-quality education. Students learn in small groups for nearly half of every school day, and in kindergarten and first grade, a vital time for childhood development, every classroom is led by two teachers to maximize individual attention. Teachers are masters of their content, and if a student needs extra assistance in any subject, multiple interventionists are on campus to provide another layer of academic support.
The core content areas of reading, writing, and math aren’t the sole focus at KIPP Austin Obras, however. “In addition to academics,” Martinez says, “we teach our students to be good humans. At KIPP Obras, they learn to be compassionate, empathetic, and responsible people – people who understand that their words have power.” One way students find their voice is through a strong theatre program, led by teacher Sunshine Garrison. In her class, students learn to give each other feedback. “I am most proud when I can sit back and watch my students rehearse. They not only take creative risks on stage, but they have also learned how to provide feedback and hold each other accountable.”
At KIPP Obras, everyone values the strength of the school community. Teachers are dedicated to professional growth, families are engaged, and students take ownership of their education. “I had over an hour commute last year,” Martinez says, “but I knew I couldn’t leave KIPP Obras just to find a school that was closer. The love here, the community, the voice that everyone has…I don’t know if I could get that anywhere else.”
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