Rebecca Dray is the math department chair at KIPP Courage and has taught 5th grade 3 years in a row.
1. What led you to teaching at KIPP?
I grew up in Chicago and graduated from Depauw University, a small Liberal Arts school in Indiana. I went into college thinking I would be an Education major. I always wanted to be a teacher ever since my 2nd grade teacher left such an impact on my life. As I started taking classes, I chose to be an English Literature and Spanish double major. After graduation, I decided I did want to teach students whose primary language may not be English. I joined Teach for America in Dallas from 2010-2013. I moved to Houston for the 2013-14 school year and began teaching at KIPP Courage as a 5th grade math teacher.
How did you begin your role as the KIPP Parent Association Liaison at Courage?
My School Leader, Eric Schmidt, approached me about piloting a parent association for the school. During the school's inaugural year in 2012, parents were very involved in fundraising projects. Our goal for year 2 was to hone our vision to empower our families to advocate for their children through fundraising and community building. It wasn't until my 2nd year at Courage that the KPA took off! The power of our parents is truly amazing. They are passionate about providing opportunities for all of our families. Every meeting we have, there are new ideas about culture building events and fundraising. I have the pleasure to sit and watch it all unfold. Bottom Line: The KPA is the amazing organization that it is because of our families. I have so much gratitude for them.
What does the KIPP Parent Association look like?
The KPA is led by the Steering Committee of 8-10 moms that “steer” and plan the events that range from dinners to chocolate sales to festivals. This last year, $18,000 was raised for the school which helps pay for end of year trips and more. Having the KPA is very empowering for families. We wanted to open up and find ways for everyone to get involved in a way that works for them. During our last meeting, we filled the entire cafeteria and tripled the number of families who want to volunteer. It makes everyone feel great when they see different faces.
Why did you decide to work with the KPA at Courage?
I am a Houston transplant. KIPP Courage is my family. My husband is also a big part of KIPP Courage. He is known on a first name basis and helps chaperone field trips with us. We give so much time and heart and soul. I thrive off of relationships with our families and their students. Through the KPA, I found my extended Houston family. I love that I have a space in my personal and professional life to find a family. More than that though, the climb to a through college is a long climb. Being a KIPP student is NOT easy and being a parent of a KIPP student is also difficult. I wanted to provide an open line communication for parents to voice concerns and ask questions. Mike Feinberg always says that parents are giving us their most precious assets, and I believe that. I want parents to feel safe, informed, and involved.
Where is the future of the KPA headed?
We are currently working on a new fundraising idea. It is a giving back project in the spring, steered by 8th graders. This is our first year as a fully grown school so it is wonderful time for families to come together. We want to mobilize parents to be advocates and see their project come to fruition. We also want the entire program to continue to evolve. We are currently working on some other programs beyond fundraising so stay tuned to see what the future holds for us.
If you would like to get involved with the KIPP Parent Association at KIPP Courage, please reach out to anyone on campus, and they will help get you involved!