Founding KIPP in a New Community

by Ariel Reynolds on Oct 07, 2015

in Team & Family

Two new schools, KIPP Unity and KIPP Academy West opened in August for the 2015-16 school year.

Founding a KIPP school has many unique challenges, like solidifying your school culture and finding the right teachers to build that positive culture in a new community with new students.

Steve Khadam-Hir, founding principal of KIPP Academy West, knew he could find great teachers for the school, teachers willing to rise into the high expectations set for the first year.

Steve Meets Trisha

“During her interview process, I called her ‘a KIPP teacher, just not at KIPP yet.’”

Trisha Meerman moved to Houston after receiving her degree in education from Michigan State University. After teaching language arts, social studies, bilingual ESL science and math, Trisha knew she loved science and wanted to focus on one content area.

While working on her master’s degree, Trisha read about a lot of education systems, thinking there has to be a better way to do what I’m doing, there has to be a group of people who work differently and believe in the kids. That’s when Trisha found herself at a KIPP job fair.

“I chose KIPP because I wanted to be in a system that let me work proactively instead of reactively, create and design lessons where I can work with kids’ gaps, and work with the kids instead of giving work for the kids to do,” Trisha explained.  

Founding Teacher

When asked why she wanted to be a founding teacher, Trisha explained that it is greatest, hard thing to do. She thinks back to every negative situation and knows founding a school is the perfect way to find a voice and advocate for the kind of school she wants KIPP Academy West to grow to be.

A brand new school means brand new challenges as well.

“It’s like building a plane while flying it,” Trisha said. “You don’t have that person to go to who has done it before. We have to be okay with not knowing sometimes.”

Trisha Today

“Trisha rose into and exceeded my expectations,” Steve said. “The joy and zest she brings to the classroom feeds into the students, and they love learning science.”

She truly finds different ways to expand the students’ learning and love for science. Take a look at the mock crime scene she set up in her classroom to teach science in a fun, interactive way. The crime scene featured a “break-in” in the classroom. Students had to notice things that were out of place, take samples, and use their brains to piece together what took place.

No KIPPsters were harmed in the making of this crime scene. We promise.