Monday, May 30, 2011

Our first year with KIPP Austin Public Schools

Wesley-Grant with some friends from his class
The playground
Principal Justin Scott with kids at the Exhibition for the kids
Family Saturday Schools....watching some accomplishments from the year
Art Show downtown with students from Kipp...and Ms. Boswell the Art teacher
Handicap spots the kids made to apply things they learned to help their community

Engineering Class display from the year
Playing Haitian Futbol after talking to the kids about Haiti and Kelly
One of many gardens the kids have planted this year on their campus.

KIPP AUSTIN COMUNIDAD was first introduced to us December of 2009. We had been praying about school for wesley-grant. Never did i ever expect the amount of choices before us when it comes to schooling a child. I grew up in public school and that was all i knew existed. Now, there are so many systems of education. I am thankful to live in a country with options and so many opportunities for education. There are many systems and all of them have great things...all of them are broken in some places. In all the research, I have not found anything perfect. But what we have found for our family is specific provision for all that we asked of from the Lord when it came to education as we entered that season with Wesley-Grant last year.

We wrestled with which option to pursue when it came to kindergarten for Wesley-Grant. If you want to know all the specifics, let me know and i will share. But for now, I just wanted to post about the school that we ended up choosing, or really, ended up choosing us.

So, it was December of 2009 when we were told about KIPP from a previous teacher who was at our house at a gathering. That is where we heard about their first elementary opening and that it would be Dual Language. Spanish/english. Long story short, we enrolled in the lottery. Wesley-Grant's name was drawn and we began our journey into charter schools before we ever knew all behind their name.

I could write a book on all we have experienced this year. Ask me if you are interested. Tears run down my face when I think back to all that we valued when it came to education and how KIPP has provided more than we ever expected. Here are some of the highlights from our first year there:

Defining Education: Kipp goes beyond skill academics and focuses a lot on character. Being nice, working hard, Be safe, Tenacity, Honor, Quality, and respect are always taught. They value language and their students perform above AISD reading levels in both languages at the end of the year. Education has always meant more than academics to us and we have found the same at KIPP.

Language is valued: They take kids that speak spanish and kids that speak english and tell them that their language is valuable and teach them each other's language. They teach the value of both languages to each other and it creates an equal environment for both.

Community: Students are taught to apply what they learn to help their community. WG's class had to learn about difference and same...about disabilities. They spent a day being blind folded or riding in a wheel chair to experience what it is like to have a disability. The kids painted handicap spots on their school parking lot. They talked about bullying and how they treat each other who are different. They even talked about adoption and WG was able to share about Kelly. At 4th grade they will be working with Non-Profits to learn about community in their city.

Commitment:The staff at KIPP works harder than any teachers I have known. They are there morning until 5pm and sometimes longer. They work at saturday schools once a month. They are always available to answer crazy questions from us parents. One of the things that is amazing is how they support each other. When one teacher is out, the others step in to help. There are no subs. They are a team that is commited to excellence from the teacher to the principal. They see the kids for what they can be and teach them accordingly. They don't see them as they are, but where they are going.

Making a difference:KIPP teachers are telling the kids constantly that they "CAN". They let them know that they were made to be something in their family, community, city and in the world. They serve under-resourced kids and continually serve to support the families of each child. Hands down, they are training leaders of tomorrow and impacting the city of austin and beyond.

We are so thankful for KIPP. We are so thankful for the staff, for the families that we have met through saturday school and everyday life with students. Sally will start kindergarten next year.

Wesley-Grant has grown so much this year. It is a great commitment for us as a family, but not too much. Life is being grown everyday as we are apart of this school. We are growing as a family and growing in community with other families. We are so proud of WG and look forward to another year for him.
For more info on KIPP, you can visit their website at It is one of many educational systems. We have found it to be a place of provision for our family as we have started down the road of education with our kids.