Kristen Chaffee explains why she thinks teachers need to build relationships with their students

One of the keys to being a successful educator is building strong relationships with students and their families. Those strong relationships create trust between students and the adults in the school, allowing students to feel safe and valued each day in their classrooms and throughout the building. At our middle school, students receive KIPP Cash, a school-based currency that students can use on their KIPP Cash Pay Day to purchase school supplies, t-shirts, and even staff experiences. Ms. Chaffee, a Student Services director at KIPP Indy College Prep Middle, and Ms. Corya, a 6th grade humanities teacher, got to experience the power of these relationships first hand when they took two KIPP Indy students to join them at Cake Bake for one of these staff experiences. Here is what Ms. Chaffee had to say about the experience in the staff newsletter: “It’s so nice for kids to get to know teachers as real people,” Amaris announced as she dug into one of the six gigantic slices of cake spread out before her last Friday at Cake Bake. Amaris had cashed in for a staff experience and she, “bff” Janiyah, Ms. Corya and I were attempting to sample pretty much every dessert at the bakery. I’ve sometimes wondered what makes the staff experience a grand prize– why is time with a teacher (who kids see every day) so highly valued? Is it just about eating cake, watching the Pacers and playing laser tag? Partly. But I don’t think that’s all. Amaris remembered the Cake Bake pictures from last year and described racing to the table at KIPP Cash Payday to...

Meet KIPP Indy: Barato Britt

Barato Britt is the Executive Director of the Leadership and Legacy Academy at the Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC), a 75-year-old institution that provides wrap-around services for over 3,000 low-income families, primarily in the Martindale-Brightwood community where KIPP Indy is located. In addition to his work with EMCC, Barato sits on the KIPP Indy Board of Directors and has been a key partner and advocate for our schools for many years. Barato first got involved with KIPP Indy through his work with EMCC. “As a longtime advocate for school choice I was familiar with KIPP, but after meeting Ms. Pelino (KIPP Indy’s Executive Director) I knew the school was on a positive trajectory.” That, along with his deep belief in the mission and vision of our schools, is why he joined our Board. Barato says KIPP Indy is unique in the community because of our approach, diversity, and commitment to creating a college going culture for all of our students. He goes on to talk about KIPP Indy’s commitment to the Martindale-Brightwood community. “The school is open and transparent, and clearly is committed to contributing consciously and positively to the overall community fabric.” Barato is excited to see KIPP Indy establish a relationship with Indianapolis Public Schools and what that means for educational outcomes for students. He believes that greater collaboration between traditional public and public charter schools demonstrates that all community stakeholders can work together for the sake of kids. “I am gratified that KIPP Indy has embraced, with responsibility, working in partnership with IPS. What is unquestionably true is that many of our students in most need...

KIPP Indy’s Partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools

In 2014, Indiana passed groundbreaking legislation that established Innovation Network Schools. Innovation Network Schools combine the freedom and flexibility of autonomous schools with access to services and financial support from a large district. At KIPP Indy, our elementary and middle school were both selected to become some of the first Innovation Network Schools to partner with Indianapolis Public Schools. Through this partnership, IPS supports KIPP Indy with the opportunity to lease a facility and the access to essential, cost-effective services such as transportation and building maintenance. This is imperative to our work because, as a public charter school, we receive fewer public tax dollars than district schools. Dr. Ferebee, the Superintendent of IPS, highlighted the importance of this partnership for our students, saying, “Our partnership with KIPP Indy is a great example of the power of the innovation model. We strive to provide KIPP with cost-effective transportation and facilities so that they can direct more dollars to teaching and learning.” With this support from the district, we are able to ensure that more of our funding goes directly into the classroom to provide the best educational resources for our students. However, the partnership between KIPP Indy and IPS is about more than just a school building and transportation. Innovation Network Schools provide a unique opportunity for all public schools, both charter and district, to improve educational outcomes for students in schools across the city. Emily Pelino, the Executive Director of KIPP Indy, said, “Families want the best educational opportunities for their students, regardless of what type of school they attend.” The president of the IPS school board, Mary Ann...

Meet KIPP Indy Alumnae: Jala and Ila

Jala Powell and Ila Childs are two KIPP Indy alumnae that have big plans for their lives. Jala, now a senior in high school, said she came to KIPP Indy because she needed to be challenged academically. “The curriculum at KIPP required a lot of work and you had to be prepared. As a KIPPster, I learned that without proper preparation and the necessary materials, I wouldn’t be successful,” Jala said. Ila, now a sophomore at Indiana University, is an embodiment of that hard work and effort. As an advertising student with a minor in marketing, she is using her interests and skills to get involved on campus. She is the media relations chair for the Neal Marshall Black Student Alliance and a member of the IU chapter of the NAACP, as well as a member of the marketing committee for IU TV. Both students credit their college preparation to KIPP Through College (KTC), KIPP Indy’s college prep program that is dedicated to getting students not only to college, but through college. KTC places a strong emphasis on making college an attainable goal for every KIPP student. They do this in a multitude of ways: from workshops and college entrance test prep, to campus visits for students from kindergarten and up. Jala said KTC has helped her succeed in high school. “I joined conferences and extracurricular activities because the KTC team recommended them to me.” The KTC team has helped Jala navigate taking the ACT with test prep sessions and provided guidance to her on how to pay for college, with information on loans and grants. Jala hopes to...

College Savings Program Promise Indiana Comes to KIPP Indy

Having a college savings account makes students almost seven times more likely to attend college than those who don’t have an account, according to a 2010 study from Washington University in St. Louis. The study also found that having a savings account was a better way to predict whether a child would attend college than race or family net worth. Knowing this, the KIPP Through College team was thrilled to be selected by Promise Indiana for their innovative college savings initiative. “Through this partnership, KIPP Indy students have the opportunity to open 529 college savings account at no cost to them,” said Randi Perry, who leads the KIPP Through College team. The Marion County Promise pilot, of which KIPP Indy is now a part, was created by Promise Indiana, a Hoosier-focused and led program dedicated to helping students matriculate to college. The program has a multitude of benefits for KIPP Indy families, including: ● No required deposit from a family; the community makes an initial deposit of $25 to the student’s savings account ● Simplified enrollment process, online or paper form ● Opportunity for additional dollars from the community – if a student engages “champions” and raises $25 for their 529 account, the community will deposit an additional $75 ● Money in the account can only be used for a student’s future education expenses – parents cannot withdraw money for any other reason. “The fact that the enrollment process is simplified is going to be really helpful for our families,” said Randi. “We tried to launch a similar program on our own at KIPP Indy a couple of years...