Friday, June 07, 2013

KIPP Team Annual Gala

I attended the KIPP TEAM annual gala last night, which was very inspiring, especially the speech by a graduating senior at Newark Collegiate Academy (I've included pictures and descriptions – sorry the quality is so poor – it was dark and I forgot my regular camera, so I had to use my crappy cell phone camera). Ryan Hill and his incredible team have built five amazing schools (two elementary, two middle, one hs), with one more on the way this summer (and many more in the future). Plus they’re starting a new network of schools in Camden in Aug. 2014 – if you think Newark’s tough, go see Camden! For every 1,000 children there, only 5 -- not 5%, but 0.5% -- earn a college degree…

The KIPP THRIVE Academy choir signing/chanting an I Have a Dream poem – the kindergarteners were so cute!

Ryan Hill presenting

The three honorees (from left to right): NJ State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (who’s been GREAT on this issue); John Cozzi of AEA Investors; and Brian Sterling of Sandler O’Neill + Partners (also honored were the army of past and present volunteer tutors)

The KIPP Collegiate Academy Ensemble sang

Shaylah McNealy, a graduating senior at KIPP Collegiate Academy, capped the program by telling her extraordinary story. She was taken into NJ’s foster care system at age 8, which she described as “a nightmare”, was shuffled among foster homes, finally adopted, and then won the lottery to get into KIPP TEAM – and entered 7th grade two years older than other students, barely able to read. But thanks to her incredible drive and tremendous support from her adopted mother and TEAM, she caught up and is going to Monmouth University in the fall. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house…

Superintendent Cami Anderson spoke at the dinner that followed the program.


I want to highlight one remarkable slide that Ryan showed during his presentation at the gala, which shows how great Spark Academy (the first KIPP elementary school in Newark) is relative to the public school alternatives parents have. It shows the range of math and reading scores for Spark students at the end of SECOND grade (in turquoise) vs. the range of scores on the same test for students entering KIPP’s middle schools for FIFTH grade (in red; nearly all of whom are coming from regular Newark public elementary schools). As you can see, the Sparksters are nearly identical in reading and only a fraction of a grade level behind in math, despite being more than TWO YEARS younger. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a graphic that so vividly captures the extraordinary (and heart-breaking) difference between high-quality inner-city schools (usually “no excuses” charter schools) and typical inner-city public schools. Then, when you think about all of the people (most publicly Randi and Ravitch) fighting to preserve the status quo and kill off schools like Spark, it really makes your blood boil, doesn’t it?!

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