I apologize in the delay in my first post. I just returned to the United States last Friday after backpacking through Spain, France and Italy with three other wonderful Haverford students. Although leaving Europe was hard, I’m glad I have this summer to look forward too! Below is a picture of the four of us on the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence.
Now I’m in Philadelphia though, and almost completely moved in to the West Philly home I’ll be sharing with six other Haverford students for the next two months. Waking up here this morning was strange; it was a new room in a new place but, magically, all of my things were there too!
Today was my first day at work, but before I delve into all things internship, I figure I should give a little bit of background. I’ve been working at KIPP Philadelphia one day a week for most of this past semester, after meeting a Haverford alum from the class of 2005 who works in the regional office at a CDO panel last October. I’ve known that I’d like to teach for awhile, but I’m also interested in exploring parts of the education system outside of the classroom. Meeting Kathryn was a huge stroke of luck. A simple email set up the opportunity for me to intern at KIPP, and I instantly loved it.
KIPP Philadelphia is part of a larger national organization of KIPP (“Knowledge Is Power Program”) schools, which were founded by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, two Teach for America corps members in the mid ’90s. While teaching in urban Houston, they began to identify what methods worked and what methods did not. Based on their ideas and help from a few experienced teachers, they founded the first KIPP schools. (For a much more comprehensive and better written history of KIPP, check out “Work Hard, Be Nice,” a book by Jay Mathews)
KIPP soon exploded across the country, and now there are almost 100 schools in 20 states and D.C. Although they are open enrollment, they cater primarily towards the low-income and minority students that have typically struggled in school. All share certain characteristics, including a longer school day and school year, attendance and behavioral requirements and an end of year field lesson (for instance, all 6th graders at KIPP schools across the country spend close to a week in Utah and the Grand Canyon), but school leaders are encouraged to put their own spin on each school. The West Philly middle school that I spend most of my time in has a unique step dance program that all students participate in.
I am in no way able to give justice to the numerous achievements of the program here. For more specific information, feel free to ask me questions or check out the website (kipp.org/).
Tomorrow I’ll post more specifics about what I’ll be doing this summer. Until then, I’ll be trying to stay cool in the heat of my first east coast summer.