Joy Green, Kindergarten teacher and Grade Level Chair at KIPP Indy Unite Elementary, shares her strong beliefs in teamwork, what it takes to be an effective leader, and why working with families is critical to her work as an educator. Questions and answers were edited for space and clarity.

Tell us about yourself. What path led you to teaching Kindergarten at KIPP Indy Unite Elementary?

I have been teaching for 15 years in schools in Indianapolis and Texas. When I interviewed for a position at KIPP Indy, I was looking for a team that I could be a part of and grow with for several years. This year marks my 5th year teaching kindergarten here. My teaching experience at KIPP Indy has allowed me to collaborate with excellent teachers, build new friendships with my coworkers, and support our students and their families.

You also serve as the Kindergarten team’s Grade Level Chair (GLC). What responsibilities do you have as a GLC and what’s your favorite part of that leadership role?

The GLC position requires you to develop effective management, communication, and leadership skills. As a GLC, I enjoy being a source of support for my fellow team members and sharing the teaching experiences that I’ve learned from in my previous years. I love that KIPP Indy is a teaching environment where I consistently learn from others. We support each other’s visions and hold each other accountable to our goals. One quote I live by in this role is: “True Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

You’ve been on KIPP Indy Unite’s staff for 5 years now. What keeps you coming back to teaching here year over year?

Throughout my years of teaching at KIPP Indy, I have learned so many things about myself, my passion in life, and my abilities. Our hardworking team and family, support system, and common values bring me back to KIPP Indy each year. Also, the relationships I’ve built between families and KIPPsters over the years inspire me want to continue this work so I can to support their individual paths to success.

Describe the development and support you receive at KIPP Indy. How does that help you grow as a teacher?

Every year that I’ve taught at KIPP Indy, I have seen parts of our schools grow for the better. The support I received from my GLC during my first year at KIPP Indy made an immense impact on me and influenced my decision to continue my teaching career here. My GLC set clear expectations for her classroom, supported my strengths and areas of growth, and showed her commitment to helping me improve. Her support has encouraged me to support other teachers and families in the same way. I believe every day is a new day and a new opportunity for every individual to make it better than the last. Just as I’m continually improving as a teacher, I want other teachers to grow alongside me. My team operates under the motto: Each one, Reach one.

Why do you think it’s important to partner with families and the community to support the students in your classroom? What impact do you think this has?

Partnering with families is absolutely key to building strong relationships with your students and developing your students as a whole. Families are a student’s first teachers and our role as educators is to work in partnership with families in order to support students in the best ways possible. Our school is a resource for our surrounding community, just as our community provides resources to us. Communities or neighborhoods thrive when we effectively communicate and support one another. 

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

When you join KIPP Indy’s staff, know we are a true Team & Family. You will build relationships and experience new adventures. You can always ask for support. KIPP Indy is a place where you can grow in your own interests. Here, teachers and staff initiate the change they want to see happen and opportunities unfold naturally.