Visit to the new KIPP high school (under construction) and KIPP Academy Elementary
On Tuesday I visited my 53rd KIPP school (yes, I've counted), the KIPP Academy Elementary School, which serves K-2 (growing to K-4). It's located near Grand Concourse in the South Bronx in the poorest of 435 Congressional districts in the country, where 49% of children live in poverty (there's KIPP creaming again – NOT!). This is the sister school (under the same charter) as the original KIPP Academy Charter School started by David Levin in 1995, the year after he and Mike Feinberg started KIPP with the first school in Houston. As with most KIPPs, what I saw was inspiring and heart-warming.
On my way there, I walked past the new building under construction for the KIPP NYC College Prep high school (see pics 1-3 below; all of these pics are also posted at: https://picasaweb.google.com/WTilson/VisitToKIPPAcademyElementarySchool4312?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ3_9Jumyo37eg), which is less than a 10-minute walk from KIPP Academy and KIPP Academy Elementary School – in fact, you can see it from the windows of both schools (it's under the "r" on the window in picture 8). Opening in the fall of 2013, it's going to be a SPECTACULAR facility and will relieve the terrible overcrowding the high school is currently experiencing, with three grades (growing to full-size next year) jammed into two floors of a building with KIPP Infinity, KIPP Infinity Elementary School and a number of regular public schools in a complex on W. 133rd St. This is the second high school building funded in large part by the Robin Hood Foundation – the first opened in Crown Heights Brooklyn in August 2010, serving students from the Achievement First and Uncommon Schools networks (seehttp://uncommonschoolsorg.siteprotect.net/usi/newsAndEvents/eNewsletter/issue005/issue005.html andhttp://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2010/04/new-high-school/). Thank you Robin Hood!
KIPP Academy Elementary School is also located in a spectacular new facility that the DOE built (see pics 4-5), which is shared by a number of public schools. One of the first people I met at the school was Ivy Sosa (pic 6), the office manager who proudly said she was a graduate of the 4th class of KIPP Academy (meaning she would have started there in 1999), which you can see out the window behind her (pic 7). She graduated from college in 2010 and, like many KIPP college grads, has returned to work at KIPP (she said there's another KIPP alum working as a special ed teacher).
The rest of the pictures are from the various classrooms I visited, plus I posted four videos, which if you watch them closely show a number of important things:
· The kids are incredibly joyful, engaged, and participating. Just watch those kids shouting and dancing their 3's – do you think they will EVER forget 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30?!
· There are no distractions from learning – the kids are organized and perfectly behaved.
· The teachers blew me away: they're all incredibly energetic and at the top of their games. If you've read Doug Lemov's must-read book, Teach Like a Champion, you can see the teachers using many of the techniques: finger snaps, counting, using students' names constantly, etc. (forgive me, Doug, for not using the proper terms!).
Here are the links to the videos:
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