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It’s elementary: KIPP offers first step in education

The Dallas Examiner | 12/2/2013, 2:15 p.m.
Nadia Jones, cuts the ribbon during the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for KIPP Destiny. She also spoke during the ceremony. Andre Agassi (in green) and Bobby Turner are seen in the back of the group. Kim Ritzenhaler Leeson

Community leaders in Dallas gathered on Oct. 23 to celebrate the opening of KIPP Destiny Elementary, a new public charter school in South Dallas. The school will be located at 3663 Camp Wisdom Road.

KIPP stands for the Knowledge is Power Program and provides college preparatory education for students from underserved communities.

Among the over 150 people who attended the celebration were former tennis star Andre Agassi and Bobby Turner, managing partners of Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund which provided funding for the elementary – considered to be the group’s first Dallas/Fort Worth investment.

“By financing quality school facilities, we are breaking down one of the biggest barriers facing charter school operators like KIPP DFW and enabling great schools to flourish in Dallas and all over the country,” Agassi said. “We are confident that KIPP Destiny Elementary will deliver terrific results for its new students.”

The partners discussed how the funding was a long-term investment in tomorrow’s leaders.

“We are excited to build on the momentum of the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund with the opening of KIPP Destiny, allowing talented educators to focus on what they do best,” Turner said. “KIPP has a tremendous track record of innovation and achievement and we are pleased to team with them for a second time here in Dallas for another success story.”

The new school opened this fall and has 190 students of which 130 are in kindergarten and 60 are in pre-kindergarten.

The school serves 16 ZIP codes in South Dallas, according to Mackenzie Martin, director of development for KIPP DFW.

“There is a demand and a need for high-quality college preparatory education in Dallas and we have a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life,” Martin said. “When our students leave eighth grade and go to high school, they are on an even-playing field with other students.”

KIPP Destiny is the second school in the KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth Network.

“We have a middle school called KIPP Truth Academy and it has been open for 10 years in Southern Dallas,” Martin said. “We are really excited that KIPP Destiny Elementary is the first school in our growth plan to get to 10 schools in the near future.”

The middle school serves grades five through eight.

“Today is a great day for the city of Dallas,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said during the program as he thanked the KIPP network for its commitment to South Dallas. “KIPP Destiny Elementary will provide children with more high-quality education options that lead to successful careers. KIPP is a catalyst for change because it allows students to make choices about colleges and careers that they might not otherwise be able to make.”

KIPP Destiny will serve Pre-K through fourth grade. Martin said the plan is to open one grade at a time so right now they are only open to pre-K through kindergarten students.

Enrollment is open and is free. Currently, the school is made up of 50 percent African American students and 50 percent Hispanic students. Also, 95 percent of the students qualify for and are eligible for a free lunch or reduced lunch program.