“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” -Rita Pierson
Relationships matter at KIPP because KIPPsters matter at KIPP. When catching up with older KIPP alums, three names are heard most often when they talk about (surrogate) uncles and moms: Sam Lopez, Isaiah Spann, and Jenn Dewhirst.
Jenn Dewhirst began at KIPP in 2000 and taught 8th grade English her first year. The next year, she began doing high school placement for KIPP Academy Middle School. When KIPP Through College was formalized, Jenn became a founding team member.
“Because I have been doing this for such a long time, I work with families for many years,” Jenn explained. “Actually, I now counsel the daughter of one of my first students. That kind of long-term affiliation is what builds trust.”
Many parents reach out to Jenn for everything from college applications to invitations family gatherings. Jenn strives to help students and families find the best high school for every child.
“It’s not my decision,” Jenn said. “That’s what I will always say. I want to provide all of the information so families can make an informed decision and never have any regrets about what they chose for their child.”
Jenn’s impact goes far beyond guiding students during their high school transition. Jenn builds relationships by being open and available. She attends games, school concerts, birthday parties, and graduations for her former students. By being visible and available, people open up and talk about life.
One of Jenn’s former 8th grade students and current KIPP Accounting Clerk, Marleny, shares her most impactful memory with Jenn, “At my Quinceañera party, Jenny offered to crown me during the ceremony since I didn’t have anyone else who was willing to do so. At first I thought it would be embarrassing to have a teacher “crown” me during my 15 party where my entire family and friends were watching. But she didn’t care. She said ‘I meant a lot to her as a student and was honored to do something special for me on my special day.’ Jenny has left her loving mark not just in my heart but my family’s too.”
Jenn Dewhirst is a KIPP mom and friend to hundreds of KIPPsters. Jenn is Team & Family.