This week marked the first-ever KIPP LA regional “Start Strong 2018” summit at the Pasadena Convention Center, bringing together over 1,000 instructional and non-instructional team members with the goal of starting strong for the 2018-19 school year. Each day was filled with opportunities for professional development, team building, collaboration, storytelling, school beautification and so much more. Read on for details of the event.
KIPP LA believes in the power of collective learning as featured in the 75-minute, teacher-led workshops kicking off the summit. Topics ranged from “Data Wizardry: Next Level Progress Monitoring to Differentiate Instruction” to “Using Google Classroom to Engage Students in Self-Paced Learning” and “Rigorous Differentiation: Accommodations That Meet the Needs of All Learners While Keeping the Bar High.”
Voices from KIPP LA’s Team & Family were present throughout the summit, including those of students, alumni, parents, teachers, team members, and leaders. One KIPP LA parent, Denise Fletcher, spoke about her experience on the KIPP LA Family Ambassador Program and her involvement in building support for KIPP Compton Community School. She noted that “we have truly built an inclusive family that is not only motivated by the success of KIPP, but the success of our community. And that’s ultimately what I love most about KIPP LA - the goal is really to provide our children with the best educational choices possible, so that they return and uplift their communities.”
Jessica Magaña, an alumna of KIPP LA Public Schools did just that, returning to teach at KIPP LA Prep after earning her bachelor's degree. She shared that “KIPP instilled the values of grit and social intelligence in my everyday being, and encouraged me to pursue knowledge and challenge notions of inequity both in and out of the classrooms. As educators - as people - we need to continue to criticize and push ourselves to ask the questions that make us feel uncomfortable. We need to keep questioning our own positions in order to deconstruct the inequities that exist in our own communities so that when our students enter the collegiate world they are not just token students of color.”
Four members of the KIPP LA Team & Family shared inspirational stories of “heart students” - those who require additional love and support. M’kenzie Flakes, a resource specialist program teacher, spoke of her progress with an autistic student who taught her about her own capabilities. Kasiopia Moore-Watts, dean of KIPP Academy of Opportunity, shared an unlikely friendship that blossomed during Tina’s Angels - a mentorship program created by Ms. Tina Knowles-Lawson and overseen by Kasiopia. Cesar Alfaro, founding PE teacher and transitioning dean of KIPP Sol Academy, connected his own life story to that of his students, in particular a young boy who let his guard down after Cesar earned his trust. And Lonnie Webb, associate director of the KIPP Through College team, provided three stories of KIPP LA alumni who showed grit in the face of adversity and are now thriving in their career paths, including one alumna who is now part of the KTC team.
Social Justice & Equity
Dr. Darin Earley, director of Loyola Marymount University Family of Schools, joined us for a highly motivational keynote address in which he reminded the team that institutional agents are superheroes, high expectations matter, and students need a sense of belonging. He advised against making assumptions when designing environments for students, and suggested rather to “build equitable spaces with someone, not for someone.”
After hearing from Dr. Earley, the team broke into sessions related to social justice and equity including instruction on trauma-informed classrooms, safe schools for LGBTQ students, support for undocumented students and families, and exploring biases.
KIPP LA By the Numbers
KIPP LA CEO Marcia Aaron shared positive data on academic proficiency, team diversity breakdowns, and estimated college completion percentages. Seven of our schools saw improvements in the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) standardized test in both math and English language arts. Seventy-six percent of school leaders are people of color, while only 19 percent of full-time team members identify as White. And our estimated college completion has risen from 28 to 40 percent - whereas the national average for students from underserved communities is only 12 percent.
After five days of intense professional development our team is ready to start strong, stay strong, and finish strong in the 2018-19 school year!