The facts, history, proven success, and the journey ahead
My life changed for the better 11 years ago when I first attended KIPP Academy middle school in the Bronx. I was an extremely nervous 9-year-old girl who was shy, quiet, and reading below my grade level. I had little motivation and confidence in myself due to teachers in my previous schools degrading me because I did not have the highest grades and could not perform at the same pace as my peers.
I was first introduced to KIPP Academy, through my cousin who was in 6th grade at the time. My aunt told my mom how KIPP really helps their students and offers services that no other school in the Bronx has. So, my mom filled out the application to enter the lottery and we celebrated the day I got in. As my first day of school approached, I started to get nervous. It was only after orientation I started to feel comfortable. I remember the last day of orientation was the t-shirt ceremony — we were 5th graders finally earning our KIPP Chalkboard T-shirt. That was the first time I ever felt like I belonged and was part of a team.
As the school year went on, thanks to my English teacher, I was recommended to get tested for a disability due to the trouble I was having with reading. It was then that I was officially diagnosed with a learning disability. Upon hearing this, I thought that I was dumb and was never going to get good grades, but my special education teachers at KIPP never gave up on me. They always checked on my grades and gave me the motivation I needed to believe in myself.
I attended KIPP NYC College Prep for high school. I was still nervous because I knew that I was closer to the goal of going to college but had to face many more challenges to get there. The most valuable lessons I took away from my time at KIPP NYC College Prep were how to advocate for myself, maximizing my time to get involved with extracurricular programs, and how to develop my professional skills. Throughout high school, I had to inform the teachers that I needed extra time for my exams. This was done so that I could get comfortable with telling people about my disability so that in college, when I would have full responsibility of informing my professors, I wouldn’t have a problem doing so. Lastly, through dressing professional once a week and by taking advantage of the resume workshops provided at my school, I learned the skills needed to interview and create a professional resume.
Now, I am a rising senior at SUNY Albany and have accomplished so many things. Without the skills I learned at KIPP, I would not be a founding member of the epsilon delta chapter of Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society (Disability Honor Society) and would not have become the first African American female president of that chapter. I would not have pursued chairmanship of the Civic Engagement Committee of the NAACP chapter on my campus and I would not have had the perseverance to earn a spot on the Dean’s list and Honorable Mentions list multiple times.
I am thankful that I went to KIPP and for all the teachers that made an impact on my life. I am forever grateful to have had a choice in the education that I received and that there was a school that provided me with a fun, educational, and safe space where I was consistently told that I can do anything that I put my mind to.
I believe that if my community had more schools like KIPP, it would bring more opportunities to children in the neighborhood in order for them to lead better lives than their parents have.