Cultivating Identity Development Practices - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 5, January 2021

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Cultivating Identity Development Practices

Equity Training

Over 50 staff members, including School Leaders, senior leadership team members, Assistant Principals, and all direct managers, continue to participate in ongoing antiracist training this school year with Dr. Blanca Ruiz, who was one of the original Leading for Equity trainers, working with Executive Directors and the KIPP Foundation. Part II of the training was held in December and part III is happening January 29th.

McNair Fellows

Through a one year leadership development program, KIPP Chicago will assist leaders in leveraging their unique perspectives to affect broader change within our organization. The McNair Fellows, who have each been with KIPP Chicago for three or more years and have held a leadership position, will be given financial support to utilize for their own leadership acceleration. Individual pathways will include professional development, coaching/mentoring, and the development of school-based impact projects. Each path will be differentiated to meet the needs of The McNair Fellow. The fellowship is designed to elevate leaders to thrive in their roles and amplify the impact of their leadership in the evolution of our organization.

The McNair Fellowship, named after Ronald Erwin McNair, an astronaut & physicist, is KIPP Chicago’s initiative that will increase the development & mentorship opportunities for emerging leaders of color, who identify as​ Black/African-American or Latinx/Hispanic. In development for two plus years, we are thrilled to announce our first 13 fellowship members, spotlighting 2 of them in this edition. Antavis Spells and Yodit Weldu have been with KIPP for over 10 years, both making a profound impact on students, alumni, and families. We asked them these two questions: What are your aspirations in leadership and how do you see this fellowship helping you get there? This program is inspired by the success and life of Ronald McNair. In terms of your career, who is someone that inspires you?

Antavis Spells | Assistant Principal KIPP Ascend Middle School

As a leader, I aspire to transform and cultivate the minds and bodies of our students by coaching them to strengthen their mental and physical muscles. Utilizing coaching that fosters independent thinking rooted in dedication, discipline, and consistency to become the best student athlete they can be. I aspire to create a community where students and families feel heard, seen, respected, and are in a life long partnership with our school community. I aspire to lead a team that is innovative and always prepared to find solutions that will help to change the trajectory of the lives that we serve. I aspire to maintain a staff that believes in second chances, motivates people- not just students- and brings out the lion or lioness inside of everyone. I aspire to be a leader, not by position of power, but by example. I see the fellowship being a stake of support and a compass to help me navigate my way on this journey. I see this fellowship helping me locate and identify the greatest leverageable partnerships and resources that will cultivate my abilities to support students and families. In addition, develop teachers, athletic coaches, and most importantly connect with the community and other stakeholders.

The person I consider a hero, role model, and inspiration is Dr. Mahalia A. Hines. Dr. Hines was my high school principal and my current mentor. Her love for people, motivational words, belief in second chances, and unwavering faith saved me. Without Dr. Hines in my life as a living role model, encourager, and guide, I’m not 100% certain I would’ve had the dedication and discipline to maintain a growth mindset. The growth mindset is not just conducive for myself but others as well, to continue up this mountain of educational leadership. It’s because of her that I believe the relationships we have with our students, families, community, and each other can blossom into anything we desire! I was once the stereo-typical student and statistics predicted my life’s outcome. Dr. Hines coached and mentor me. It is because of her servitude that I graduated from highschool and college. She indeed made me feel that I could conquer anything. I dedicated my life to educating and empowering young people because of the impact Dr. Hines had on me. I witnessed first hand the super-power that educators possess. Education determined my outcome! It was possible, because I was taught to independently think for myself. She gave me HOPE!

Yodit Weldu, High School Transition Advisor | KIPP Forward

What can I offer to the world? How can we make a change? I often ask myself these questions every day. As a leader, I aspire to become a better person by growing, developing my skills, taking advantage of all opportunities, and being an example. The McNair fellowship will maximize my strengths by influencing the youth through the resources provided. The program will give me the tools needed to help others and most of all, light the torch for the youth.

The first name that came to mind was George Washington Carver. A pioneer of his time, he was a brilliant and beautiful man who admired and valued life. Despite his traumatic upbringing, Mr. Carter was able to persevere, and most of all, inspire the world. Through his innovation and research, he was able to change the agricultural world. Mr. Carver was ahead of his time!

KIPP Chicago Alumni Association

Congratulations to our KIPP Chicago alumni!! KIPP Chicago was selected as one of the regions for the KIPP Foundation’s Regional Alumni Association, in order to establish and lead an Alumni Association here in Chicago. The KIPP Foundation will provide support to our regional KIPP Chicago Alumni Association, including funding, coaching, access to the national network of alumni, and an alumni network toolkit.

Our KIPP Chicago Alumni Association has already discussed working to establish a network of alumni to offer mentoring opportunities, professional networking, events, and more.

Special thanks to these 7 alumni who worked together to submit this application and create something amazing here in Chicago: Keith Davis, Paris Clark, Paradise Clark, Ta’Shai Washington, Michallé Fain, Amirah Hall, and Dontorrie Chatman.

KACP Principal, Jarell Lee Featured on Unpublic with Citizen Stewart

On January 7th, Jarell Lee, founding principal of KIPP Academy Chicago Primary, joined Citizen Stewart for a Facebook Live discussion. Jarell shared his story of overcoming barriers to educational success and how he is working to help other students do the same.

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