KIPP Texas Families,
World Teachers Day was on October 5 and our 1,980 KIPP Texas teachers mean the WORLD to me! I am so thankful for our teachers who Persist with Purpose, ensuring that our students have a great school experience from the very beginning. With gratitude, I am excited to honor their commitment to continuing to teach at KIPP Texas through the annual Persist with Purpose bonus. This year, we will award over $1.7 million to our teachers, interventionists and special education teachers who have completed their first, second, third, sixth, and tenth years of teaching at KIPP Texas! Thank you, Big KIPPsters, for fostering meaningful relationships with our students and their families and continuing to do all you can for our Little KIPPsters.
Behind the scenes, our school staff, our unsung heroes, ensure that our Little and Big KIPPsters are supported and have all they need to succeed. National days and affinity months allow them to shine in their very own special spotlight! We started the month celebrating our school custodians with a Big KIPPster heartfelt video spotlighting Gashe Aden’s story, a testament to the KIPP Texas core value Persist with Purpose. As a Somalian refugee who began on the night shift at KIPP SHINE Prep ten years ago and is now the lead custodian of the entire campus, she inspires me, her children, and out entire community to lead with love and care.
Across KIPP Texas, our 240 school custodians were showered with love and appreciation! At KIPP Paseo Primary in Austin, School Custodians Ms. Daisy and Ms. Alicia enjoyed a surprise basket of goodies and notes from Little KIPPsters thanking them for making their school sparkle and shine! Thank you and to ALL of our school custodians! You are all truly incredible!
Yesterday, October 10, was World Mental Health Day, coinciding with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We are thankful that everyone had the day off to focus on mental health while taking time to celebrate the past and current contributions of Indigenous people. Today is National Coming Out Day, and we celebrate all who have come out as LGBTQIA+. We continue to work on creating brave and belonging spaces for our KIPPsters. At KIPP Texas, everyone belongs.
This month also starts the beginning of National Principal Appreciation Month! Our school leaders work tirelessly to provide our schools with a safe school environment where our Little KIPPsters can learn and thrive and where our Big KIPPsters love to work. They are strong, equitable leaders and inspire our KIPPsters to strive for academic excellence. They are teachers at heart, true rock stars that move others to lead. Join me in celebrating our incredible cohort of 57 school leaders and 30 principals-in-residence across our KIPP Texas regions by sending them a note of gratitude why your principal is the best! School leaders, we honor you!
I want to honor KIPP 3D Academy School Leader Shelia McDaniels! Although she has served as an assistant principal and principal in residence at KIPP Generations previously, she is celebrating her first year as an official school principal. She is incredible with numbers and science knowledge, and with a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering, she is out-of-this-world remarkable! While she could be working anywhere, I’m grateful that she chooses to work with our KIPPsters again and again, leading them to success. Thank you, Shelia! We love you! Send our first-year school leaders a note during their first National School Principal Month! View the dynamic group of leaders here.
Speaking of amazing school leaders, check out Catherine Presley doing the honors of officially opening Houston’s KIPP Sharpstown College Prep high school building! At the end of September, KIPP Sharpstown College Prep hosted leaders and community members for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of their new high school expansion. The A-rated school currently serves 5th-9th grade, but with the building expansion, they will now be able to add a grade level each year until 12th grade. Congratulations to the KIPP Texas teams and school staff that made this growth possible. It was an honor celebrating KIPP Sharpstown with Little and Big KIPPsters by my side!
I was able to do the same with our KIPP Oak Cliff Academy – Paul Quinn KIPPsters in Dallas last month. The joy on School Leader Wauneta Vann’s face says it all about how we were feeling that day! Check out the news story featuring the partnership between KIPP Texas Public Schools and Paul Quinn College.
Although Hispanic Heritage Month will end this week, we will continue to honor the beautiful and diverse culture of our Latine KIPPsters always. One KIPP student affinity group out of San Antonio, made news this month! Check out this news story from KIPP Aspire Academy in San Antonio.
The “Proud Latinas” club of 40 students gives Little KIPPsters like Mia Martinez a safe space to honor their culture and discuss topics impacting the Latine community. Thank you to our Big KIPPsters for creating brave and belonging spaces for students and fostering an inclusive classroom culture where learners feel that they belong and learner identity is affirmed and celebrated.
For our Big KIPPsters, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, our LEAD (Learning, Engaging, Advancing, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) team hosted an insightful Hispanic Heritage Month Culture Connections event the last week of September. Our Deputy Chief of Academics, Sonimar Villegas, and KIPP Austin College Prep School Leader, Juan Juárez, led interviews with notable guest speakers, Dr. Margarita Calderón and Mr. Luis Javier Rodriguez.
As we close out the first nine weeks, I want to thank our Little KIPPsters for putting in the hard work each day. Together with our families, we work, plan, create and dream. Let’s work together to make the dreams of our Little KIPPsters, a reality.
CEO of KIPP Texas