When Kim Albert entered Episcopal High School, she realized how high the expectations were for her and her classmates – expectations that she’d grown accustomed to while at KIPP 3D Academy. Over time, she realized those high expectations made a real difference in her life.
“I felt the Episcopal students were expected to do well, and it was common for everyone. Then reflecting back on elementary, not everyone was held to that same expectation,” Kim said. “I realized how much of an impact a good teacher can make on one student, and I realized at KIPP I had great teachers and at Episcopal, I had great teachers, and I was successful because of those great teachers. I wanted to make sure I could do that for other kids.”
Kim majored in education at the University of Texas and joined Teach for America in 2014 to return to KIPP as a teacher at KIPP Legacy Preparatory.
“I wanted to be a member of the community and come back and say, ‘Hey, if you do work hard, you can get there. I was in your seat,’” Kim said.
Returning to KIPP
Although she majored in education, she said her biggest surprise when she returned to KIPP to teach was how much preparation goes into each lesson.
“I mean I always knew that teachers work hard, but having my own classroom I see there is so much that goes into teaching,” Kim said. “It’s not just coming in and teaching the lesson. You have to motivate them or else they won’t care about what’s in the lesson. You put so much in, but you get 10 times as much out with your kids.”
One thing that didn’t surprise Kim was the KIPP culture, especially the opportunity to rely on her Team & Family.
“When people say Team & Family, it’s real. It’s not just in school, it’s outside of school too,” Kim said. “We do a lot of team building. It’s nice to have people to lean on. When you need a break, they can tell by looking at you from across the hall.”
In addition to her Legacy Team & Family, Kim leans on her former KIPP classmates as well. Three of her former classmates are also in their second year of TFA, all teaching bilingual elementary.
“We make sure we hang out every once in a while and talk about how our school year is going, and we always relate it back to when we were at KIPP. It’s really nice to be able to have someone who understands what you’re thinking,” Kim said.
Kim takes her experiences as part of the Team & Family and works to ensure her students feel the same atmosphere in her own classroom, which is a gift they can take with them long after they’ve left her room.
“My kids from last year when they see each other, they act like it’s a big reunion in the hallway,” Kim said. “I love having them come visit me and they act like they are one big family or if they are sad in the hallway, they cheer each other up.”