Cultivating Identity Development Practices - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 11, February 2023

Cultivating Identity Development Practices

Dia de Los Muertos at KIPP Bloom Primary 

Día de los Muertos is a day of remembrance for those who have died. Its origins can be traced to pre-colonial Mexico when it was believed that the souls of dead loved ones returned to their families once a year so that their lives could be celebrated. Several Latin American countries also celebrate Día de los Muertos, like Ecuador, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

“Families commemorate the day by creating ofrendas, the Spanish word for offerings that colloquially means altar for Día de los Muertos.” Angelica London, the art teacher at KIPP Bloom Primary, designed a wonderful experience for our 3rd and 4th-grade students to create ofrendas. Using bright, festive colors to celebrate loved ones who have passed, students learned the history of the celebration and used elements you would see on the ofrenda to create their own tributes. Students had the choice to make an ofrenda in honor of a deceased family member, pet, or celebrity. Way to go, KIPP Bloom Primary, for embracing all culturas

Black History Month at KIPP Ascend Primary 

KIPP Ascend Primary kicked off Black History Month with an incredibly joyful showcase! Principal Curry and the KAP Excellence team did a tremendous job showcasing their pride for Black History, creativity, and the arts through outstanding singing, dancing, and instrumental performances by their kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders KIPPsters. 

The showcase lifted up work created by students and pieces that honor our past, acknowledge our present, and express hope for the future. The performances were constructed to build complexity according to grade level and demonstrate what students have learned in their music, musical theater, and dance classes. The beautiful art pictured below was created by students in their visual arts classes. Kudos to Jasmine Nicholson, Daniel Gibson, Elizabeth Lesinski, and Katherine Robinson for a job well done! 

The ABCs of Affirming Black Children Author Ernest Crim Visits KIPP Academy Chicago Primary

There are always so many great examples of team & family webbed throughout our schools and community. First-grade teacher Sanovia Reynolds-Parks is an incredible example of someone who is not only uplifting and affirming our students, but also extending that type of transformational support to our community as a whole. She most recently introduced author Ernest Crim to KACP students, inviting him to share his new children’s book, The ABCs of Affirming Black Children

How did you discover the author and book? 

Ernest Crim is the son of my Pastor, Reverend Mel, who gifted us with Ernest’s latest children’s book. Our role as educators is to teach, affirm, love, and bring joy to our KIPPsters. What better way to do that than to bring in an author who created a book centered around our core values? I asked Principal Jarell Lee if he was interested in having [Mr. Crim] come to read the book to our students. With the help of Ms. Schmeizer, we were able to work together to make it happen. 

What led you to invite Mr. Crim to KIPP? What was the impact on students?

The story was displayed on the screen as Mr. Crim read and discussed Black History icons with our students. They were fully engaged! The book lists artists like James Brown, so we allowed the students to dance to “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Principal Lee wanted to show him how we get down at KACP with a dance party for all to participate in. After our community meeting, Mr. Crim visited my class, Spelhouse, to present each student with a signed copy of his book. There are People of Color doing great things in the community, and if I can use the network and relationships I’ve built in this short life to impact or expose students to positive images of us, that is the goal. 

After hearing about his visit, Mr. Crim’s publishing company will be gifting us 90 new books by Black authors to give to all of our 1st-grade classes! Mr. Crim is open and willing to share his presentation with other KIPP schools in our network. 

Thank you, Mrs. Reynolds-Parks and Mr. Crim, for bringing this incredibly affirming and validating experience to students at KACP!


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