8th grade KIPP Indy math co-teacher, Cameron Rivers, shares his unique professional background, his experience co-teaching at KIPP Indy, and his advice for new to KIPP Indy teachers. Questions and answers were edited for space and clarity.

Questions appear in bold, while Cameron’s answers follow.

What did you do professionally before teaching at KIPP Indy?

I have been dancing for the past 22 years. My mom owns a dance studio here in Indianapolis (Turning Pointe Academy of Dance), where I have been teaching and choreographing for the past 12 years. I have danced professionally on Holland America Cruise Line and at Walt Disney World. During my time right before starting at KIPP Indy, I taught dance at Edison School of the Arts.

What attracted you to KIPP Indy?

I have always loved teaching and working with kids. I really enjoy being a positive influence for others and ensuring all students know someone cares and believes in them. My initial connection to KIPP Indy was through my sister-in-law who taught here. She shared with me how KIPP Indy values team and family, meaning they value relationships between everyone involved in the school- students, families, staff, and community.

What has your experience been like in your role as a co-teacher?

I serve as an additional set of eyes, voice, and strong presence in the classroom. By having two teachers in the room, students have access to both direct instruction and one-on-one help at the same time. It’s been great to have my co-teacher to constantly collaborate with and bounce different ideas off each other.

What are some unique aspects about teaching at KIPP Indy?

KIPP Indy values effective communication. School leaders, coaches, and other staff are constantly giving feedback, both positive and constructive, and checking-in on their staff. This year, we have also been really focused on internalization. This means my co-teacher and I go through every lesson to decide how we are going to teach the material and determine what concepts students might struggle with. I feel more comfortable with the material because I know exactly what I am teaching and should be looking for in students’ responses.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a teacher who is new to KIPP Indy?

One piece of advice I would give a teacher who is new to KIPP would be to be as open as possible, acting as a sponge–taking in and sharing as much knowledge as you can. No matter if you are a veteran teacher or in your first-year, every teacher should be constantly learning. Also, our students have a lot more going on in their personal lives than we know. It’s important to be someone they can trust. After all, students are more than just names on a roster sheet; we are a family.