This school year, KIPP Chicago was invited to participate in a forward-thinking, social-emotional learning cohort. In collaboration with BRYT (Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition), the CPS Office of Innovation & Incubation is leading this opportunity for school and district leaders. The eight-month professional learning and practice series focuses on developing comprehensive school mental health support systems for students and adults. The learning sessions centered on utilizing a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework to bolster trauma-informed, healing-centered practices at the building level. Two key goals are: understanding the relationship (differences and overlap) between SEL and mental health systems within the broader MTSS framework; and developing an action plan for increasing SEL and MH support across the tiers for students and adults. Involvement in this collaborative will involve gaining knowledge, planning SMART goals, implementing efforts to achieve real goals, and evaluating processes and outcomes within and out of session activities. Our community has been grateful for facilitator and social worker, Courtney Tucker. We are pleased to have Ashley Stone, Achievement Director of Diverse Learning, Brittany Jones, Managing Director of Justice Initiatives, and Colin Sallee, SEL Chair, participate.
Meet Santana, Illinois Network of Charter Schools Outstanding Illinois Charter School Eighth Grader of the year!
Santana is an Honor Roll Student at KIPP One Academy, where he advocates for himself and his peers. Over the summer, Santana voluntarily participated in summer enrichment to “have the best year in 8th grade.” He met with teachers and leaders to share what he wanted the eighth grade to look like and helped to create the eighth-grade vision. For the past two years, he has served as Class Captain, trusted by teachers and classmates to perform duties, encourage classmates, and help resolve conflicts. Currently, he is applying to high schools, researching his options, and meeting with alums to learn more.
Outside of school, Santana participates in The Bloc, where he has learned about challenging himself physically and mentally through boxing. Through his experiences at The Bloc, he is now equipped and independently employs strategies to adapt and overcome challenges. Congratulations, Santana!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Ashley Cupil. This is my fourth year at KIPP Bloom College Prep, where I serve as 6th grade Diverse Learner Teacher and Co-Chair for Social-Emotional Learning. I also serve as one of three coaches for our Model UN team. Aside from being an educator, I am also a birthworker. I am certified as a Holistic Fertility Doula, Reiki 1 Practitioner, and Pregnancy & Infant Loss Advocate.
As SEL chair, what ideas, programs, or lessons are you most excited to bring students?
I am excited about all of the programming! This year, our students have been involved in many social-emotional learning opportunities both within and outside our building. We’re currently gearing up to offer our students the chance to learn about Restorative Justice through Peace Circles, which the Greater Chatham Initiative will run. More than anything, I am excited to introduce our students to new experiences, feelings, and ways of being. As Black kids, they have to know that there is more than what they’ve been shown. There is an entire world at their fingertips! I am overjoyed to have the chance to watch our students learn about new things, learn to care for themselves, and become compassionate, justice-inspired members of our community.
What do you believe is needed for a student to thrive in a KIPP school from an SEL perspective?
For students to thrive at a KIPP school, students have to know that there is more to life than just KIPP. There is life outside of our walls. I think that once students realize that their vision must be bigger than the buildings that hold them, then there will be no limit to what they can do in any capacity! Of equal importance is teaching our students how to live, love, and learn in a community. Often, our students come to us with the mindset of going to school to get to the next position or to please their families. They are so far into the next moment (I love the ambition!) and haven’t yet learned to heal themselves and be themselves in the present moment. My goal for our SEL program is to teach our students that they have all of the tools within themselves to be present, prepared, and successful as whole people.
Tell us a bit about your own journey and how that informs your work as an SEL chair.
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, literally, my entire life. As a child, I looked up to the Black women who taught me, poured love into me, and provided me with a community of more mothers than I could count, always nourishing the seeds my mother planted. Now that I’ve reached this place and been so joyfully touched by my students who have allowed me into their lives, I want to show them as much as possible. I want them to see the beauty of being able to exist among their own people in a space of upliftment. That is why it’s so important to me that they gain self-regulation skills, learn empathy and compassion, and become even better people than they already are. As a mother (though I’m very new at it), I approach this work now, always hoping to be as loving and endearing to my students as I’d want someone in the world to be to my son. My greatest wish is that my students can take that love and transform it as they sew it into their families and friends, and the world.