6 Teachers Win Awards

by Ariel Reynolds on Aug 11, 2015

in Team & Family

“There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” - Norman Vincent Peale

KIPP Houston Public Schools’ teachers have been living this quote out (in full swing). Their heart, dedication, and enthusiasm have led to multiple, recent accomplishments. KIPP Houston Public Schools had two Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching award winners and four Kinder Excellence in Teaching award winners! We couldn’t be more proud of our teachers and their accomplishments.

The Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award, named after Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg's mentor, recognizes outstanding teachers from the KIPP Team and Family. The winning teachers are nominated by their school leaders and are recognized for their leadership in and dedication to improving outcomes for students in underserved communities. Each winner receives $10,000 in recognition of his or her exemplary work in the classroom.

Isaac Owoyemi teaches math at KIPP Houston High School. He has pioneered the use of technology in his region, using new platforms to analyze student data and provide tailored support. He also introduced programs to help his students better prepare for the ACT, and in turn college. Isaac is a KIPP parent with three children having attended KIPP and now attending or having graduated from universities across the nation—Rice University, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University.

Katie Chase is entering her fourth year of teaching at KIPP Legacy Preparatory. Katie firmly believes education is the social justice of our time. She voluntarily visited other KIPP schools during spring break to learn best practices, and immediately shared and implemented what she learned. Under her instruction as grade level chair, 77% of kindergartners are reading at or above grade level. Our Trailblazers are blessed to have her teaching them how to “Read, Baby, Read.”

The Kinder Excellence in Teaching Awards was established in honor of Edna C. Kinder who taught special education students. In recent years, the awards have concentrated on the Houston community, awarding more than $2 million in the last five years to nearly 100 outstanding teachers in the KIPP, YES Prep, Teach For America, and Archdiocese programs.

KIPP Houston Public Schools are proud and excited to announce the teacher recipients of this year’s Kinder Awards: Fabeah Adu-Oppong, Mayra Gonzalez, Anthony Nguyen, and Kelly Pfister. Each winner receives $20,000.

Fabeah Adu-Oppong is an 8th grade Science teacher at KIPP Sharpstown, grade level chair and KIPP alumna. She is an avid data-tracker and clearly lays out what it is a student must do to be successful. As grade level chair, she is responsible for building the grade level culture. Team discussions focus on trends and tracking of both academic performance and behavior. For example, she and her team devised an incentive system to reward students for homework completion each week. She is unafraid to be boldly committed to what she believes in and consistently grows herself to advocate for the best interests of our students.

Mayra Gonzalez, an Explore veteran, is an essential asset to the Explore Team and Family. She has distinguished herself as a teacher who consistently gets strong results, builds transformative relationships with students and families and always lives beyond Z.  Ms. Gonzalez is known for not only going above and beyond for her students but also for new KIPPsters, often answering questions in her classroom after hours for new teachers.

Anthony Nguyen arrived to KIPP Liberation as a wide-eyed Teach For America corps member and has since developed into a dynamic teacher and role model for students and teammates alike. The incredible academic growth of his students is evidence that he not only consistently implements feedback, but is always looking for ways to continue to improve. In his second year in the classroom, he once again repeated the amazing feat of ensuring that 100% of his 8th grade students exceeded on the high school Algebra EOC, a test typically reserved for 9th grade students in the state of Texas.

Kelly Pfister is a geometry teacher at KIPP Houston High School, grade level chair and coach for new geometry teachers. You can often find Ms. Pfister tracking down students for tutorials, staying late for extra tutoring, and putting finishing touches on lesson preparation so everything is executed seamlessly the following day. She is also in charge of fundraising over twenty thousand dollars, coordinating logistics and chaperoning the five-day sophomore road trip to visit colleges. She has been an integral part of the school and student success.

Check back next week to learn more about each recipient!

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