A New KIPP Through College Program: Passport to College

KIPP Indy is excited to provide a new program this year dedicated to helping our alumni in high school to and through college: Passport to College. The program will provide KIPP Indy alumni with clear expectations for continued KIPP Through College counseling support in an effort to increase student engagement in the college planning process, as well as ensuring students reach their goal of completing a college education. To accomplish this, the Passport to College program will give students the opportunity to attend workshops relevant to the different stages of high school, beginning in 9th grade and continuing all the way through 12th grade. Workshop topics will range from college research and entrance exam prep in 9th and 10th grades to building college wish lists and filling out applications in 11th and 12th grades. The program will continue to provide access to other important KIPP Through College resources, such as college visits and the KIPP Match Tool to help students decide which colleges are the best match for their needs and goals.   While KIPP Through College has always focused on supporting alumni on their way to and through college, Passport to College provides a predictable sequence of college support throughout every step of a student’s high school experience. In addition, alumni receive incentives for participation in the program. For instance, if a student-alumni completes all of the required workshops, they become eligible for small scholarships that can be used for college expenses such as books and school materials. In doing this, the program is expected to not only increase alumni engagement with the workshops but, more importantly, encourage...

A Letter to Our Team & Family

Dear KIPP Indy Team and Family,   As we welcomed students back to school last week, it was clear that the sense of urgency in our work has never been greater.  We need to ensure our students have positive self-identity along with tools to navigate through and effect change in an unjust world.  From events that have been highlighted over the summer months, including the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, to the violence that is occurring in our own neighborhood, we know that many of our students are struggling to make sense of their surroundings.   As a school community, we can and will ensure that our students feel loved and safe when they are at KIPP Indy. Safe not just from violence, but safe to know that who they are and where they come from will be embraced. Safe to voice how they feel about social issues facing their community, including police brutality, racism, and other forms of injustice. And safe that they will have teachers and administrators who respect and embrace their diverse thoughts, identities, and cultures in and out of the classroom.   KIPP Indy is committed to supporting social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and working to become a stronger voice for solving issues of injustice in our community. This school year, we created a working group to meet regularly to discuss how we can better support efforts to achieve social justice. If you have suggestions or want to learn more, please reach out to epelino@kippindy.org. We welcome and need the input of our broader school community.   Please know that KIPP...

KIPP Indy has a new playground!

On July 30, over 200 volunteers came together to build a new playground at KIPP Indy. The playground was built through a unique partnership between Delta Air Lines and KaBOOM, a national nonprofit that builds playgrounds. The playground was officially available for play during the first week of school.   KIPP Indy is thrilled to have this new playground on campus. KaBOOM! believes play is central to a child’s ability to grow into a productive adult. It can transform children from sedentary, bored, and, solitary to physically, mentally, and, socially active. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has been dedicated to the bold goal of giving all kids – particularly those growing up in poverty in America – the childhood they deserve, filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. With its partners, KaBOOM! has built, improved and opened nearly 16,300 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers, and served 8.1 million kids.   Our new playground at KIPP Indy is the 14th built by Delta Air Lines and KaBOOM! Delta supports KaBOOM! in promoting and protecting a child’s right to active play at home, at school and in the community.   At KIPP Indy, we’re excited that the new playground will bring more than 1,000 kids in Indianapolis one step closer to having the play-filled childhood they deserve. In building this playspace together, we are making it easier for all kids to get access to safe, balanced, and active play.   Thank you to KaBOOM! and Delta Air Lines for helping give our students a space to play!...

Meet KIPP Indy: Former KIPP Indy teacher steps into a new leadership role this year

Brittany Scherer, a former middle school humanities teacher at KIPP Indy, is taking on a leadership role as an assistant school leader at KIPP Indy College Prep Middle this year. Brittany taught eighth grade reading and literature at another school before joining KIPP Indy. She says the biggest difference between other schools and her experience here is that the bar for excellence set for both teachers and students is very high and that the school makes students feel loved. “Teachers are held to very high expectations so that they can be their best selves in front of students, from whom we demand so much… Students are working hard, but they are being praised and recognized by teachers and staff who love them.”   One of her favorite memories from her time at KIPP Indy includes a special student she had this past year who put the eighth grade team on a rollercoaster ride. She explains, “He was incredibly intelligent and curious, but he had some behavioral struggles. Our team would also see a side of him where he would refuse to enter lunch or wander the hallways without permission.” The student was at risk for being retained at one point this year due to his failing grades.   However, when students took their second round of MAP testing, an adaptive test that measures individual progress and growth taken three times during the school year, this student had achieved his growth goals in both math and reading. “When we were walking out to buses that day, this young man skipped up to me with the biggest grin on his face...
Founding School Leader, Ellen Reuter, explains what motivated her to open KIPP Indy’s first elementary school

Founding School Leader, Ellen Reuter, explains what motivated her to open KIPP Indy’s first elementary school

Ellen fell in love with KIPP Indy when she first came here to teach in 2009. As the fifth grade math teacher, she knew KIPP Indy was a special place that invested deeply in staff and believed all students could learn and achieve at high levels if given the opportunity. “What I loved about KIPP from the beginning, and what I still love, is that every single person in this building is willing to work hard to ensure our kids get the opportunities they deserve.” As a teacher, Ellen and the other members of the fifth grade team poured themselves into their students. “Our kids were coming to us significantly behind grade level. They were having to play catch up and they were only ten years old.” Ellen describes the fifth grade culture as a place where kids knew that their teachers loved them and were going to hold them to high expectations because of that.   It was Ellen’s experience as a fifth grade teacher that motivated her to found KIPP Indy’s first elementary school. “I could see the impact we were having, and I didn’t want to wait until our kids were ten. We should be starting as soon as possible.” She wanted to make a school where right from the very beginning students feel loved for who they are. The school is named Unite because Ellen believes in strong partnerships between staff, students, and families. “I want students to know that everyone is on their team, and we will work together to support them to get what they need.”   When describing what’s most critical to...
Art at KIPP Indy

Art at KIPP Indy

Two years ago, when Beth Lakin first came to KIPP Indy to teach, she was charged with creating a program that had never before existed at our schools – art. As a new teacher, she had no blueprint to follow, no guidelines to build off, and no one to tell her what would work or what wouldn’t work. In essence, she was creating a program from scratch. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by this challenge, Beth looked at it in exactly the same way that KIPP Indy hopes their students look at challenges – she saw an opportunity. She was excited to bring to KIPP Indy her lifelong love of art, her art education, and her passion for teaching. Today, it’s hard to imagine KIPP Indy without the art program or Beth. Emily Pelino, Executive Director of KIPP Indy, says, “Beth’s leadership extends far beyond the walls of her art classroom. The joy and creativity that she has instilled in our students is felt throughout the school community and it’s clear there’s been a positive impact on student culture because of her leadership.” Emily goes on to add that many students are now thriving in all of their classes because of their increased level of confidence and curiosity as a result of having access to art. Beth says one of her proudest moments happened just recently. “I had a new student start with us this week in my 6th grade class. She was having a hard time picking up her pencil and drawing. She kept saying, ‘But I can’t draw.’ Before I could say anything the boy next...
Casey McLeod reflects on what brought her to and keeps her in the classroom at KIPP Indy

Casey McLeod reflects on what brought her to and keeps her in the classroom at KIPP Indy

When Casey McLeod graduated from Purdue University with a degree in chemistry, she never thought that she would become a teacher. After graduation, she put her degree to use working as a synthetic organic chemist for the DOW Chemical Company. Over time, she started to crave something new. McLeod explains, “I loved working at DOW, but as time went on I had a passion for doing something that had a deeper impact on the community in which I lived.” After a short time pursuing public policy in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., she was ready to get back to her home state. “Ultimately, I felt I needed to be closer to the ground. I moved back to Indianapolis and joined the Indianapolis Teaching Fellows.” After studying schools across the area, McLeod knew that KIPP Indy was the school for her. “The belief systems that KIPP Indy has about teaching academics simultaneously with character was something that I believed in for students, as well as the overall mission that all students can and will achieve greatness.” Now in her fourth year of teaching at KIPP Indy College Prep Middle, Casey cannot imagine her immediate future outside of KIPP Indy. She feels that the students are what keep her coming back year after year. In addition to her love and dedication for her students, she has a deep appreciation for the team and family culture that is a core pillar of KIPP Indy. McLeod explains, “I have honestly never worked with a more intelligent, passionate, and hardworking staff than the team that I work with at KIPP Indy.” McLeod is blown away...
Transitioning to High School

Transitioning to High School

Lakia Harris is a proud KIPP Indy alumna who is currently a freshman at Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis. KIPP Indy is thankful for our partnership with Providence Cristo Rey High School, where 30 of our alumni are currently attending. Emil Ekiyor, Providence Cristo Rey’s Senior Director of Community Outreach, Admissions, and Partnerships goes on to describe our partnership, “Students from KIPP Indy make up over 20% of the student body at Providence Cristo Rey High School. They come to our school ready for our academic honors program and prepared to excel in our professional internship program. We are excited about our partnership with KIPP Indy and the students and families that come to our school from KIPP Indy.” What do you like most about Providence Cristo Rey High School so far? I am learning and being challenged in school. Providence Cristo Rey High School reminds me a lot of KIPP Indy. The teachers really care and want me to be successful. How did KIPP Indy help prepare you for high school? KIPP Indy helped me by allowing me to shadow different schools. The KIPP Through College program was really helpful. The high school placement process really taught me a lot about responsibility. What are your goals for this school year? One of my big goals is to have a 4.0 GPA for Quarter 1. I also want to make the girls basketball team. How have you changed since first coming to KIPP Indy? I’ve changed a lot. One of the biggest things is that I welcome challenges now because I know they will make me better....
Ronak Shah Discusses What Compelled Him to Become a Teacher at KIPP Indy

Ronak Shah Discusses What Compelled Him to Become a Teacher at KIPP Indy

Current KIPP Indy teacher and Teach For America alum, Ronak Shah, discusses why he became a teacher, Teach For America’s impact on the city, and why he came to KIPP Indy. Ronak Shah came to KIPP Indy after three years of teaching in the local community. He received his degree from Indiana University and is a former Teach For America corps member. He is the 7th grade science teacher at KIPP Indy. Why did you join Teach For America? Although I didn’t study education in college, I had always been interested in a pathway to the classroom. I had thought about teaching as a career even in high school, but some friends of mine talked me out of entering the school of education at my university. Instead, I studied Conflict Resolution and Cognitive Science, with a particular focus on our broken justice system, and my interest in teaching hardened as my horror at the school-to-prison pipeline developed. I knew I wanted to be part of a blockade on that pipeline, and teaching in a public school was the most effective way to do it. Teach For America offered a route to the classroom that would allow me to work alongside a supportive community of peers with a similar purpose in pursuing education, and would also allow me to do so in my home town of Indianapolis. Why Indianapolis? Indianapolis is a city with a lot of momentum. If a person wants to do good work, this is a great place to get started and to build partnerships. I’m really excited to keep working in this city where I feel like...
Interview with KIPP Indy Public Schools Alumni

Interview with KIPP Indy Public Schools Alumni

KIPP Indy alumni discuss their time at KIPP and how KIPP Through College supports them as they navigate high school and prepare for college. Isabella, Tatiana, Ronasiea, and Santeianna are all KIPP Indy alumni who are beginning their senior year at various public and private high schools across Indianapolis. Even though they no longer see each other on a daily basis, the bonds that they created at KIPP remain strong and they all still have the same goal: to graduate from college. KIPP Indy’s KIPP Through College team exists to ensure they reach this goal. KIPP Through College counselors supported each of them and their families to enroll in their best-fit high schools and continue to collaborate with them as they prepare for college. Why did you first come to KIPP Indy? Ronasiea: I used to go to a school where I wasn’t learning at all. We really only did math, and even then, if I fell behind nobody seemed to care. When I got in 7th grade, I was behind a lot of the other kids. My mom heard about KIPP and we thought it would get me caught up before I went to high school. Santeianna: I heard about it through my cousin who told me about the end of the year field trip. I had never really traveled outside of Indiana and I couldn’t believe there was a school that cared about me seeing other places and cultures. How did you feel when you first started school at KIPP? Santeianna: Our teachers actually cared about us, and it made the students care about themselves and their...