Three KIPP Texas Public School Teachers Receive Prestigious “Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching” Award

We are so excited to announce that three KIPP Texas teachers are named as 2021 Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award Winners and will receive $10,000 each in recognition of their exemplary work in the classroom. The KIPP Texas winners are: Brittany Creary, 9th grade physics teacher at KIPP Somos Collegiate High School, Nisla Ellis, dance teacher at KIPP Dream Prep, and Kerryea Martinez, biology teacher at KIPP Sunnyside High School.

“These teachers lead with heart and joy, and prove that amazing teachers have life-long impacts on students’ lives,” says Sehba Ali, CEO of KIPP Texas Public Schools.

The Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award is given annually to ten K-12 teachers from KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools around the country. Teachers are selected for the award based on their track record of improving student achievement, their leadership in the classroom and throughout their school, and their commitment to equipping students with the skills needed to pursue any path and lead fulfilling lives.


Brittany Creary’s incredible teaching style brings science to real life situations so her students can have a better grasp of the content, and her students at KIPP Somos have proven mastery of physics above the KIPP network average. Creary always leads with equity at the center, whether incorporating students’ voices in school decisions or leading the first Black Student Union. She brings joy to every activity; for example, she worked with the chapter of her sorority at Texas A&M University – San Antonio to create a scavenger hunt for her students’ visit so they were able to experience the campus as a student instead of as a tourist.

“Brittany Creary is a phenomenal educator whose study and experience with the art and the science of teaching has led to a flourishing classroom with strong results and critical partnerships with families and community stakeholders to create a community that surrounds her students and works together for their big dreams,” says Jeremy Gray, KIPP Somos Collegiate High School Principal.

To see a video of Brittany receiving her Harriet Ball award, click here.

Nisla Ellis, dance teacher at KIPP Dream Prep, created a dance program that redefines how our students view the performing arts. She choreographs and creates pieces of work that celebrate our students’ heritage and cultural identities, and uses dance as a medium for students to process social and political issues in a developmentally appropriate way.

Words cannot capture the magic in her classroom, so take a few minutes and watch these videos of the KIPP KDP Dream Chasers Dance group.

“Nisla provides her students with the knowledge they need to change the world. She opens her students’ eyes to their reality and how to thrive within it. She brings social consciousness to her students so that they can better understand the world and their place in the global community,” says Haley Simonton-Bonilla, KIPP Dream Prep Principal.

To see a video of Nisla receiving her Harriet Ball award, click here.

Kerryea Martinez joined KIPP Sunnyside High School in 2016 as a 9th grade biology and 10th grade science teacher. Her students have consistently met or exceeded the district’s performance on the biology STAAR exam, and she established the first AP Biology class in her school. And though her class was remote during the pandemic, she went above and beyond to prepare all her students with engaging digital tools to study for the rigorous exam.

“Kerryea is a compassionate, brilliant, and her impact is felt with students and teachers schoolwide. She oftens shares her resources with other teachers, and coaches other teaches on data analysis to improve student outcomes,” says Edward Hynes, KIPP Sunnyside High School Principal.

To see a video of Kerryea receiving her Harriet Ball award, click here.


The Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award honors the legacy of Harriett Ball, a visionary educator and mentor teacher. A 35-year teaching veteran of Houston and Austin public schools, Ball incorporated chants, songs, and movement to get her students engaged and learning in the classroom. In late 1992, Ball began mentoring Teach for America corps member Dave Levin in Houston. Inspired by her methods, Levin co-founded KIPP in 1994.

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