Brianna Aikens did not always know that she wanted to be a teacher at KIPP Indy, but she did know that she wanted to work with kids on the east side of Indianapolis. Growing up and attending school in Warren Township, Bri and her family were part of the community here on the east side. As the oldest of all of her siblings and cousins, she was often asked to babysit and care for her younger family members, and this instilled in her a deep love for working with children. That’s why when Bri was accepted to the Ball State School of Education, she decided to major in Early Childhood Education.
After graduation, Bri got her first position teaching preschool at the Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC), a community organization in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis dedicated to bridging cultural, racial, and economic differences in order to support and nurture the people in the community by providing holistic programs that empower, encourage, and engender a vision of hope. During her first year at EMCC, Bri was able to realize the love that she has for working with the students in our community, and through her work she discovered our schools. “I loved teaching at EMCC because of the relationship they have with the community and the impact I was able to have with my students, and I knew that I would be able to have a similar experience with KIPP. I was still in contact with one of my professors from Ball State, and she told me that one of her former students taught at KIPP Indy and that she had heard nothing but great things about the school. I did some research and really liked the emphasis KIPP Indy puts on being a part of their community, and was really excited that I would still be able to work closely with EMCC as a community partner.” By the start of the next school year, Bri was a kindergarten co-teacher here at KIPP Indy.
In her first year at KIPP Indy, Bri had a number of great experiences, but there was one in particular that really stood out to her as special. “I had one student that struggled both socially and academically when he started the school year with us. He lacked some foundational skills, such as holding his pencil and recognizing numbers and letters. By the end of the year, he was not only able to write his name, but read and had built the confidence that he was able to learn. I was so proud of him and it was proof that our students are always capable of learning.”
Bri’s favorite part of working at KIPP Indy is the amazing staff culture that she is excited to be a part of every day. “I love that we are a family here and that everyone supports everyone. We are all collectively invested in seeing our students succeed and we are pushing them to always do better.” She has also seen this investment in the way her instructional coaches interact with her, always willing to step in and help her become a better teacher.
Now going into her second year with us, Bri is excited to transition to the role of a lead teacher. “I feel ready because I started to take more control of the classroom in the second semester last year, and I have also had the opportunity to work with some amazing kindergarten teachers here that I have learned so much from. I think what I am most excited for, though, is getting to meet all of my new students.” She also had some advice for anyone that may be going into their first year of teaching: “Remember that every day is a new day. As a new teacher you will always be your own biggest critic and you will have moments where you will feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, but tomorrow is always a new day and you can try again.”