Using Education to Create Healthy Lifestyles

Study after study shows that when students come to school hungry, it is harder for them to focus and learn at the levels of which they are capable. In some cases, students may have access to food, but the food lacks the nutrients they need to live a healthy lifestyle. Much of the east side of Indianapolis is considered a food desert, an area where there is little access to fresh foods or grocery stores, and it is difficult for families to get nutritious food at affordable prices within a reasonable distance. This includes Martindale-Brightwood and the surrounding neighborhoods where 80 percent of KIPP Indy students live. This means that many of our students and families may not have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foods that make up a healthy diet. That is why KIPP Indy teacher, Ronak Shah, partnered with The Kitchen Community to help bring a Learning Garden to our school. “A Learning Garden is a school garden that provides an opportunity for us to not only grow edible food here at school, but allows us to teach students and families how to grow a variety of foods at their own homes and in their own gardens” Ronak went on to say that the garden would be available to teachers throughout the school to use for their lessons, and he especially looks forward to taking his students out to the garden for units covering earth and environmental science. Ronak knew that in order to start a school garden, it would be necessary to have the additional support of community partners. When The Kitchen Community, an...

Meet KIPP Indy: Brianna Aikens

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...

Mock Interview Day at KIPP Indy

At KIPP Indy our goal is to help our students and alumni develop the knowledge, skills, and character strengths they need to succeed throughout their education and in the competitive world beyond. One way that we provide this opportunity to students is through our annual Mock Interview Day, organized through the KIPP Through College (KTC) program, which supports all of our students and alumni on their path to and through college. During Mock Interview Day, volunteers have the opportunity to conduct mock interviews with our 7th grade students. Every 7th grade student participates in two interviews, giving them the opportunity to interact with adults from the community in a formal interview environment and practice their communication skills. Katie Johnson, a KTC counselor, leads the organization of this event for our students. “This event helps prepare our students for all types of interviews, including work and the individual high school placement interviews that all of our students complete in 8th grade. By giving our 7th graders the opportunity to practice their interview skills, it builds their confidence for when they have to do it for real and for when they are in other professional settings.” One aspect of Mock Interview Day that makes it truly special is the inclusion of community and business leaders from Indianapolis as interviewers. When asked why KTC looks for volunteers from the community rather than just having teachers conduct the interviews, she said, “By engaging members of our community rather than teachers, it creates a more authentic interviewing experience. This lets our students know that there are professionals in our community that look like them...

Meet KIPP Indy: Rashay Earl

Rashay Earl is a second grade teacher and grade level chair at KIPP Indy Unite Elementary. She is finishing her third year of teaching and has been with KIPP Indy since she started her career as a Teach For America corps member. A lifelong Ohioan and graduate of The Ohio State University, Rashay has fallen in love with the city of Indianapolis, our school, and her students. “The best part of working at KIPP Indy is definitely the kids,” says Rashay. She is passionate about helping our students succeed – both inside and outside the classroom. “They make it worthwhile to get up in the morning. I’m inspired and motivated by our KIPPsters.” Rashay goes on to reflect that although it is the students that motivate her to do this work every day, it is the support she receives as a teacher that keeps her coming back to KIPP Indy. She appreciates how KIPP Indy goes above and beyond to help teachers meet their personal and professional goals. “KIPP Indy encourages people to get ‘at-bats’ or practice in roles and opportunities of interest to them so that they can take on more and grow over the course of a school year. I constantly feel like I am being challenged to be the best possible teacher I can be for my students.” One of Rashay’s favorite experiences teaching has been her regular ‘Milkshakes with Ms. Earl’ dates with students. For this, she periodically selects a student who has been behaving or performing really well in class and she takes them to Steak ‘n Shake for a milkshake date. They discuss...

Guest Blog from KIPP Indy College Prep Principal Nick Perry

As the School Leader of KIPP Indy College Prep Middle, I am incredibly proud of our students, staff, and families for our “A” rating from the state based on last year’s achievement and remarkable growth by our students. Success is something we have to work for, not something that is given, so it is rewarding for all of us at KIPP Indy to see that hard work come to fruition. As a school community, we believe that all of our students will learn and achieve at high levels if given the opportunity. Building off our “A” rating last year, we have worked hard to take our programming to the next level throughout this year. On top of the core subjects we emphasize in our curriculum, we are excited about the unique opportunities we are able to offer our students to enrich their education, including our specials, extracurricular programs, and field lesson experiences. For instance, this year marks the first time our students have access to a computer science and coding class. In addition to becoming programming experts, they are developing important skills like critical thinking and problem-solving that they can apply to other classes as well. Additionally, through extra-curricular opportunities like our percussion ensemble, cooking club, and sports, our students are able to explore their interests and find new passions. Finally, during field experiences, we spend time with our students in the community at places like the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Indianapolis Repertory Theater, where students are exposed to new experiences, expanding their perspectives and challenging them think and learn in new ways. On top of these, each...