Dear KIPP Chicago Champions, Educators, and Supporters,
Happy Black History Month! Teaching students about the impact of Black contributions to American history and weaving these themes into our Whole Child work has been a priority for KIPP Chicago throughout the year. However, in February, we deepen that focus by celebrating Black History Month and the rich contributions of Black leaders, innovators, educators, and entrepreneurs. If you are an educator, please check out the resources we shared with our Team & Family at the beginning of the month.
Some years ago, I received a letter from the district Superintendent naming KIPP Chicago as the school with the most academic growth. I was filled with immense pride for the recognition of our commitment to excellence and the hard work of our teachers. At that time, our organization defined excellence through test scores, benchmarks, and assessments. By prioritizing this definition of academic achievement, we built upon our growth to produce impressive results, earning School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) scores of 1 and 1+ across all schools, helping us become a leading public school network in Chicago.
As Chicago Public Schools has shifted away from SQRP, their former accountability rating system, I am proud of how we intentionally evolved our organizational definition of excellence. KIPP Chicago’s expanded definition of a quality school now includes a commitment to removing barriers to the resources that allow kids and families to thrive in school and life. The Whole Child Initiative enables us to prioritize academic rigor, community engagement, and social-emotional development. Recently, while having a heart-to-heart with two of our parents inside our newly opened school-based food pantry, I was filled with the same pride as when I opened that letter from the Superintendent many years ago. Once again, KIPP Chicago had demonstrated tremendous growth, only this time on our terms, by our own more inclusive benchmarks.
As you read this edition of the Whole Child Review, I hope you enjoy looking back at what we’ve accomplished together so far and learning more about how we are embracing new teaching methods and technology to tackle the challenges of the future. Looking forward, I am even more excited about KIPP’s future as a collective of 280 schools across the country. I recently spent time with the new KIPP Foundation CEO, Shavar Jeffries, and was inspired by his vision to see us all moving together in one heartbeat, working more collaboratively, and lifting up best practices. In that spirit, we are happy to share our work with our sister region, KIPP Detroit, and our Afrofuturism installation that is now at KIPP Metro Atlanta.
In deep appreciation,
P.S. If you are a KIPP Chicago staff member and have read all the way to the end of this note, please ask for a special raffle ticket when you enter the auditorium for Collaboration Day on February 24th. You will be entered into a special raffle you don’t want to miss!