It’s elementary: KIPP offers first step in education

The Dallas Examiner | 12/2/2013, 2:15 p.m.
Community leaders in Dallas gathered on Oct. 23 to celebrate the opening of KIPP Destiny Elementary, a new public charter ...
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

According to Martin, KIPP Destiny stands out for many reasons.

“We have a longer school day than other schools,” she said. “Our kids are in school 25 percent more than traditional public schools. Also, our teachers are under a lot of professional development in order to make their time in the classroom the most effective that it can be. We also provide transportation to our school since not all charter schools do that. We try to eliminate any barriers to high-quality education and transportation is one of those. Our college program is the biggest standout of why we are different from a traditional public school.”

The school is located at the revamped old Mervyn’s Department store on Camp Wisdom and is now a 40,000-square-foot facility with 12 classrooms, a science lab, administrative offices and also features a large multi-purpose room.

“When our students come to us in pre-K, we make a promise to them that we will be right there with them and be a partner in getting them in and through college,” Martin said. “When students come to us, they are in a partnership with their teachers, parents, administration and the community. When someone makes that promise to a 4-year-old through our pre-K program, we mean it and are very serious about helping kids reach their educational goals.”

Though KIPP DFW does not have a high school academy, once its students begin high school, KIPP DFW begins preparing them for college through its KIPP Through College team. The program advises the young adults on a college-preparation curriculum. It also offers SAT/ACT preparation classes, AP classes, leadership workshops, summer programs, university and college tours, and enrichment activities. After graduation, the team assists its college students with course and major selection, collaborates with students, parents and college counselors to meet the needs of the college student, and offers resources and programs needed to help enrich college life.

“We want our students to be college-ready and we don’t want students to be behind by the time they are in fifth grade,” Martin said. “We are starting students early with high-quality curriculum and rigorous education and also have some character building that will help them along the way.”

KIPP DFW plans to open eight more schools and serve 5,000 students by 2022.

Martin stated the school has been overwhelmed by the support they have received.

“It really meant so much to us that the leaders of the school were at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and also because we feel like the Southern Dallas community has really embraced us,” she said. “We consider ourselves partners with Southern Dallas in providing their students the education they deserve. It takes a lot of people to make these schools happen and we are really grateful for the partnership.”