New KIPP school to open in east end

April 2, 2008 11:10:11 AM PDT
While most kids are sitting by the pool in June, students in the East End will be back at school -- learning.KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) in Houston has announced that KIPP Intrepid Preparatory School will open in the East End this June. Led by Carie-Anne Simmons, the new KIPP public middle school will prepare underserved students in Houston's East End for college through innovative teaching, hard work, and a structured learning environment. The school will be located at 5402 Lawndale, and will open with a free, mandatory, three-week summer session on June 30 that provides students with an orientation to the KIPP culture.

Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin started KIPP in 1994 as a program serving 50 students at Garcia Elementary School in Houston. KIPP has grown over time to a nationally acclaimed network of 66 public charter schools in 19 states and Washington, DC serving approximately 16,800 students. Ninety percent of KIPP students are African American or Hispanic and 80 percent qualify for the federal free and reduced-lunch program.

"We are thrilled that KIPP is expanding to a new area of Houston and bringing its innovative program to families in the East End," says Feinberg, KIPP co-founder and KIPP Houston Superintendent. "Through strategic expansion efforts, we are proving that KIPP can grow to offer all kids in Houston a high quality public school of choice, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status."

KIPP has a track record in Houston and across the country of preparing underserved students for college and life. Over 80 percent of KIPP students nationally have matriculated to college. KIPP's success in closing the achievement gap has been featured in national news outlets such as People, The New York Times, Newsweek, ABC World News, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. In April 2006, Oprah Winfrey called KIPP "a revolutionary new school system."

Like all KIPP schools, KIPP Intrepid will feature an extended school day, week, and year. Students will attend school Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., two Saturdays a month, and for a three-week summer session. The school will open with a first class of roughly 90 fifth graders and will add one grade each year until it reaches 360 students in grades five through eight in 2011.

Due to the high demand for KIPP in Houston, last year KIPP announced plans to grow to a network of 42 public charter schools serving 21,000 students in grades Pre-K through 12 over the next 10 years. There are currently nine KIPP schools in Houston including six middle schools, two pre-K/elementary schools, and one high school which collectively serve over 2,400 students. 99 percent of KIPP Houston students are minority, and nearly 90 percent are low-income. In addition to KIPP Intrepid, KIPP Sharpstown College Prep Lower School will open this summer and will serve Pre-K through second grade students, bringing the total number of KIPP schools in Houston to 11 by this fall.

School leader Carie-Anne Simmons is actively reaching out to the community and going door to door in the East End to inform families of the new school. KIPP Intrepid is an open-enrollment, public school to which students are admitted regardless of prior academic record, conduct, or socioeconomic background. Students and parents enroll by signing a "commitment to excellence" learning pledge that outlines KIPP's high expectations, extended days, and structured discipline.

"We are excited to serve students and families in this part of town," says Simmons. "Kids here in the East End deserve the same quality of education as kids in the suburbs. Parents, students, and teachers will work as a team to help our kids climb the mountain to college and open doors of opportunity in their lives."

Simmons was a teacher and Director of Operations at KIPP 3D Academy in Houston for four years, and was a Teach For America corps member in rural Louisiana. She received her bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University. Last year she joined the KIPP School Leadership Program, a yearlong training program to prepare educators to open new KIPP schools. The program provides intensive coursework in an academic setting, residencies at KIPP schools, and individualized coaching from experienced KIPP staff.

"Through exciting and educational trips to places like Washington D.C., California, and Boston, KIPP helped open my eyes and broaden my perspective on life," says Lupita Montes, KIPP alumna, Trinity University graduate, and current communications associate for KIPP Houston. "The teachers at KIPP really inspired me to work hard and helped me climb the mountain to and through college. It is now exciting for me to give back and see other 'KIPPsters' like me on the road to college."


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