Katie Speer is the 8th grade science teacher and grade-level team leader at KIPP Indy College Prep Middle. This is her second year at KIPP Indy and her third year as a teacher. Katie grew up in Bloomington, IN and attended Indiana University before applying to Teach for America, which is how she started her teaching career in Indianapolis. She has loved her time with our school because, “everyone is on the same page at KIPP Indy. It’s a really supportive culture and there’s a sense of community school wide.”
One experience that drives Katie’s work is seeing students walk across the stage at 8th grade graduation. She loves hearing them say thanks and tell her what their ambitions and goals are for the future. Katie also enjoys seeing her kids accepted into high school and sharing their stories of success.
Katie remembers one of her students initially wasn’t accepted into the magnet high school she wanted to attend after she graduated from 8th grade at KIPP Indy. “Ashantae was so bright and after putting in the research and visiting the school, she knew it was the right fit for her.” Once the student found out, she asked KIPP Indy teachers and staff, including Katie, to write letters on her behalf to help appeal the school’s decision to deny her admittance. Ultimately, the school granted her a meeting and she spoke in front of a committee about why she should be accepted. They ended up granting her admittance. “Something special about KIPP Indy is that we empower our students to advocate for themselves and never give up. As a teacher, I was so proud to see what Ashantae was able to accomplish. I feel comfort knowing that even when our students are no longer with us, they still have the skills and experiences that they learned here.”
Katie’s own experience at KIPP Indy echoes that same work ethic. “I’m part of a team that never settles or is complacent. We’re all looking for ways to make our classrooms and processes better. We are constantly working to improve. It’s great to be part of a team that pushes you.”
Katie says that one of the best things about KIPP Indy is the professional development. She explains that having a coach in the classroom with her every week to give feedback is invaluable. Her coach has been extremely encouraging and transformed her classroom and teaching approach. “My coach also cares about me as a person. I would not be the teacher I am today without that feedback and guidance.” Katie and her coach also review data and determine next steps on how to differentiate instruction and intervention based on specific students’ needs.
“Team and family isn’t just something on paper…It’s the way everyone actually behaves here,” says Katie. “Teaching is an incredibly rewarding experience, but you need people to support you to do it. I have that at KIPP Indy.”