Two years ago, when Beth Lakin first came to KIPP Indy to teach, she was charged with creating a program that had never before existed at our schools – art. As a new teacher, she had no blueprint to follow, no guidelines to build off, and no one to tell her what would work or what wouldn’t work. In essence, she was creating a program from scratch. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by this challenge, Beth looked at it in exactly the same way that KIPP Indy hopes their students look at challenges – she saw an opportunity. She was excited to bring to KIPP Indy her lifelong love of art, her art education, and her passion for teaching.

Today, it’s hard to imagine KIPP Indy without the art program or Beth. Emily Pelino, Executive Director of KIPP Indy, says, “Beth’s leadership extends far beyond the walls of her art classroom. The joy and creativity that she has instilled in our students is felt throughout the school community and it’s clear there’s been a positive impact on student culture because of her leadership.” Emily goes on to add that many students are now thriving in all of their classes because of their increased level of confidence and curiosity as a result of having access to art. Beth says one of her proudest moments happened just recently. “I had a new student start with us this week in my 6th grade class. She was having a hard time picking up her pencil and drawing. She kept saying, ‘But I can’t draw.’ Before I could say anything the boy next to her turned and said, ‘Don’t worry. By the end of the class you’ll be able to. I didn’t know how to draw last year, but Ms. Lakin will teach you.’ She then picked up her pencil and started working with him.”

If you walk around KIPP Indy’s building today, you will see its walls decorated with students’ original pieces. Students have taken pride in beautifying their hallways and classrooms, and showcasing their talents. Because of Beth’s leadership, KIPP Indy is positioned to offer a more well-rounded education for their students.