Because It Saved My Life

by Ariel Reynolds on Nov 24, 2015

in Alumni, Team & Family

Home completely destroyed. Everything was covered in oil and toxins. No baby pictures, no memories.

“We missed the last call for evacuation,” Danisha explained. “As we continued watching the news, we knew we had to leave. Someone in the neighborhood stole a van and came and got us. We drove to a shelter in Baton Rouge. It was a small, middle school gym with no power. People had to sleep on the bleachers and the floor. I remember it being hot and way over capacity.”

August 29, 2005, Danisha Porché’s life was forever changed. Hurricane Katrina struck land and destroyed homes and lives in New Orleans.

“We stayed at the middle school for a week and then moved to a bigger stadium in Baton Rouge,” Danisha recalls. “At this point, we still didn’t who in my family was alive.”

Danisha and her family rode in a van driven by volunteers to Houston, not expecting that Houston would become their new home.

KIPP was advertising a school for Katrina evacuees, KIPP New Orleans West (KIPP NOW). Realizing Houston was becoming a permanent home, Danisha and her family began looking for more permanent options. They decided to begin Danisha’s high school journey at KIPP Houston High School.

“I didn’t have a choice,” Danisha said. “My mother told me I was going to KHHS. At the time I wasn’t happy about it. Eighth grade was hard behavior wise. I wasn’t used to KIPP, and I didn’t want to be there.”  

Danisha credits KIPP and dance coach Leslie (Soria) Ibarra for helping her adapt and move past her anger.

“In 9th grade, Coach Leslie was so invested in me and at the time it felt like a burden,” Danisha said with tears in her eyes. “But then she became like my second mom. Sometimes she would have to bring me home or buy me stuff. She’s the one who taught me how to do my hair and make-up.”

In 2012, Danisha became the head coach of the KHHS Dance Team. After a few years of coaching, Danisha decided to work full-time for KIPP. In September, she began working as a Special Education Paraprofessional at KIPP Northeast College Preparatory. In December, Danisha will graduate from the University of Houston Magna Cum Laude. 

“I know how much Leslie changed my life, and I want to be able to do that for somebody else,” said Danisha.

(Danisha and her dance team)