KIPP Explore Academy opened its doors to the East End community of Houston in August of 2009. The school started with 120 students and 12 staff members and has since grown to over 700 students ranging from PK3 through 3rd grade. Next year will be KIPP Explore’s final year of growth, as its founding class enters the 4th grade with a total student population of over 800 students. While the school has grown in size, its commitment to helping students climb the mountain to and through college remains the same. As our students often attest, “every second counts, as we climb the mountain to college.”
The journey at KIPP Explore begins as early as three years old. Our primary focus is to ensure that all of our students have a solid foundation in reading and math, preventing any gaps that may hold them back in their future. This is accomplished by a commitment to measuring student progress on a weekly basis and adjusting instruction to meet each child’s needs in a small group setting. This has been a recipe for success for all of our Explorers.
While academics are extremely important, at KIPP we believe that building student character is equally as important. A student’s success in life is determined by both their academic achievement and character. At Explore, we begin at a very early age teaching our students the BRIGHT values (Believe, Reach, Imagine, Give, Honor, and Trust). The values help us to break down much more difficult concepts into easier lessons that can be can be understood by all. These values are taught both inside and outside the classroom. We pride ourselves on sweating the small stuff (like making eye contact when shaking hands) and teaching the lessons that are so important to the social and emotional development of our students.
KIPP Explore is also known for its emphasis and focus on technology. Our students interact with computers daily and have technology classes which teach them how to maximize and take advantage of all that computers have to offer. At the tender age of five, students are learning the ins and outs of the Microsoft Office Suite. By second grade, the students are using keyboards that are not labeled with any letters. We start off with the basics, but by increasing the number of hours that our students engage with technology, our oldest students are creating video edits of student performances, learning the basics of computer programming, and tinkering with website design. Technology is also a key ingredient to our academic success in the classrooms. Teachers have a myriad of instructional technology resources available to them on a daily basis that helps increase student engagement and enhance their lessons. We also use a large number of software programs that differentiate for various student needs. While some students are at a small group with their teacher, others are engaged in learning that is customized to meet their own individual needs on the computer.
There are many other components that make KIPP Explore a unique place to learn and grow. We have a dual language program that allows students to learn Spanish and better equip themselves for the future. Our parent workshops build a strong bridge between home and school as we create a common language with our parents and provide strategies to encourage learning beyond the confines of our classrooms and extended school day. We also have a huge focus on building character through extracurricular activities that are sponsored through the school. For the past three years, KIPP Explore has provided students with the opportunity to participate in an internal baseball league. This unique league introduces athletics into the school environment at a much younger age. The hard lessons that are learned on the baseball field often translate to the many lessons of character being taught inside the classroom. This year we have also extended this opportunity to include soccer and dance.
KIPP Explore is an exciting place to learn and grow for our students and staff alike. Interested in learning more? Come on by the East End to see us!