Nancy Flores, who is the incoming School Leader of KIPP Generations Collegiate, returns to KIPP after most recently serving as the Director of Teacher Residency for Relay Graduate School of Education. She is in her 20th year in education, having served many years in administration, including as the School Leader of KIPP Coastal Village. She started her teaching career teaching high school Special Education, and she began her work with children as a case manager at psychiatric and substance abuse facilities for adolescents affected by substance abuse. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Psychology from the University of Houston.
1. What led you into teaching?
Having an opportunity to work with at-risk students is what led me into teaching. I came from a background where I was working with adolescents who had alcohol and drug abuse issues. I worked with students who were coming in and just working on social-emotional needs wasn’t getting us where we wanted to get them. That was the first time I wanted to work with the whole child and not just work on social and emotional needs, but also provide the opportunity for them to be academically successful. I wanted to use their education and help them build success after the horrible experience they’d been through.
2. What interested you about KIPP?
I was at the summer Harvard institute and met the founding School Leader of KIPP Coastal Village and she told me about this school that was serving this particular population and this organization that was dedicated to serving students to and through college. She asked me to come through and do a walk-through because she knew she was retiring. I went and I immediately fell in love with the kids. It was a population of kids facing extreme challenges. KIPP was giving them an opportunity to experience what character development and academics could do together; I’d never experienced what it looked like in practice to give the time and energy to both character and academics. It was probably the coolest experience of my professional career to see what it looked like to develop character and the skillset needed to be academically successful.
3. What are you most excited about in your new role at KIPP?
I’m most excited to watch over the next four years a group of students move from 9th to 12th grade and graduate. I know I’ll see that each year for each graduating class, but to see a group of 9th graders and the progress they’ll make under our leadership is incredible. In addition, this first group of graduates from this Spring will also get to come back in four years from college having graduated, so it’s almost a parallel journey I get to watch.
4. What is your vision for your school this next year and how will you work to achieve it?
Generations’ motto is ‘We lift as we climb’, and that really hits home for me. I’m the only one from my family who graduated high school and I also graduated from college and have a master’s degree. I think our vision is really to see our students internalize what that means; we lift as we climb, but what does that look like each year?
5. What assets and experiences do you bring that you think will be valuable in your new role?
I’ve just completed my 19th year in education in a variety of settings. I’ve had an opportunity to receive just the best professional development from some phenomenal leaders. It took me a long time to realize how important teacher development was and how the drive for instruction must come from the teachers. So you have to put your energy into hiring, PD, and get the teachers to buy-in. Teaching is the driving force they bring to the table every day. They become the driving force behind student achievement.