Learning the KIPP Way

by Ariel Reynolds on Aug 10, 2015

in Team & Family

I’ve officially been KIPPnotized. As a new hire for KIPP Houston Public Schools, my first order of business was to attend a daylong orientation to learn all things KIPP. Feel free to ask me anything about the Freedom Tree, KIPPisms, KIPP Through College, and pretty much anything and all things KIPP.

My name is Ariel Reynolds and I am KIPP Houston’s new Communications Specialist. For those of you who don’t know much about KIPP or KIPPnotizing itself, let’s break the day down together.


8:30-9:30: Whole Group Welcome

Picture 300 new, fresh, excited employees hearing from Sehba Ali, superintendent of KIPP Houston Public Schools, and Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP.

9:45-11:15: Breakout Session 1

Although the day offered many different breakout sessions geared toward helping teachers prepare and grow, I chose to attend three sessions that would help me as a Regional Services Team member. Session one I attended KIPPnotizing 101 led by none other than Mike Feinberg himself. I can’t think of any better way to truly get the KIPP experience than by having the man who believed from the beginning lead this session. Mike focused on teaching us all about the Freedom Tree, KIPP’s display for the core values: honor, commit, persist, excel, and enjoy. These values then become our operating norms.

12:30-2:00: Breakout Session 2

For my second breakout session, I learned about KIPP Through College’s services like academic support, college placement, summer internships, enrichment building programs, an alumni association, and financial guidance.

2:15-3:45: Breakout Session 3

Time Management – Take Time to Make Time. As a predominantly Type-A personality, I debated attending this session since I like to think I am already pretty good at managing my time and staying organized. WRONG. This session was life-changing. A huge shout-out goes to Lara Wheatley, principal for KIPP Houston High School, for leading and instructing so well during this session. Things I learned include keep my inbox to a maximum of 25 emails, create a folder system that is incredibly detailed, and only use one or two organizing systems. Here’s hoping I can keep this organization all year long.


Quotes are big at KIPP. I learned this from the moment I stepped on a campus. Quotes are on the wall, hanging in frames and painted in murals. Our KIPPnotizing packet for the day was filled with quotes and KIPP even has quite a few of their own KIPPisms they like to say often like “Work hard. Be nice.”  

Of all the quotes that were read and discussed during orientation, one stood out to me more than the others:

“Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” –James Baldwin

The promise I leave you with on this blog post is important. I sat in a room with hundreds of teachers who will love, encourage, and challenge the KIPPsters in their classrooms every day.  But most importantly, they will lead by example in everything they do and ultimately, that example will make all the difference.

For more information on KIPP Houston Public Schools, please visit our website.