At KIPP SoCal, we believe in the power of highly effective teachers and leaders to see, develop and inspire the greatest potential in each KIPPster. Our schools offer a safe, structured and nurturing environment through which our teachers can foster meaningful relationships built on love, empathy, compassion and respect. As we learn from each other and with each other, we establish a culture of trust that helps our KIPPsters develop a lifetime love of learning.
This month, we sat down with School Leader, Tessa Mizokami, to shine a light on Latoya Lewis, our incredible music teacher at KIPP SoCal's KIPP Pueblo Unido.
What is it about Ms. Lewis that is so unique and inspirational?
Latoya is one of the most phenomenal teachers I have ever had the pleasure to work alongside. All of us have that one teacher we will never forget. That teacher who made you feel like you could achieve anything in their classroom and who made you feel special and seen in a world so big and unforgiving. To all of our students at Pueblo, Latoya is that teacher. There is never a dull moment in her classroom. Students go from clapping beats, to solo performances of their favorite songs, to chanting in unison with huge smiles on their faces. I often say Mrs. Lewis' classroom is the heart beat of Pueblo Unido. The joy she creates in her classroom radiates and reaches every corner of our school. Because of her, students have unprompted sing alongs at recess and they leave school skipping to the new beat they learned that day. Families often remark that when they ask their student about their day, the first thing they say is, "Well, in music today...". All of Latoya's hard work and love she pours into our kids was showcased at our winter concert.
"I often say Ms. Lewis' classroom is the heart beat of Pueblo Unido." - Tessa Mizokami, School Leader
In what ways does Ms. Lewis reflect KIPP Pueblo Unidos' core values?
Latoya is not only "that one teacher" to our students, but also to our families and staff. The love she shows our students is the same kind of love she shows every stakeholder in our school. During dismissal, you'll see Mrs. Lewis embracing our families with hugs and individual greetings. She is a teacher because she LOVES working in communities and spreading her love of music. For her, the work is not just about our students, but about every person she works alongside. Her innate love of the people in her community is the driving force behind her optimism. She is always radiating with a belief in a better tomorrow through her smiles, laugher and positive energy.
"I love teaching because of that lightbulb moment that occurs when a music concept finally makes sense to a student. I also love the smiles, giggles and genuine joy children have about the big and small things in life. Their perspective is refreshing." -- Latoya Lewis