“At KIPP Legacy, we live by the quote, ‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.’ Katie consistently challenges herself, her team, and her students to do more and be more than they could have ever dreamed was possible. She is a vital asset to our team, has proven results, and is dedicated to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to grow and learn.”
That paragraph was Legacy school leader Monique Payton’s closing statement when nominating kindergarten teacher, Katie Chase, for the Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award, named after Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg's mentor. The award recognizes outstanding teachers from the KIPP Team & Family for their dedication to improving outcomes for students in underserved communities, earning $10,000 each.
Katie’s educational philosophy is simple. She teaches so her students have access to every opportunity that was afforded to her through her privilege. She recognizes that challenges build character and that challenging her students lays a strong foundation for growing adults with desire, discipline, and dedication to change the world. She firmly believes education is the social justice issue of our time and that her responsibility is to equip students to be independent, critical thinkers, who have the social capital and discipline to be the change they wish to see in the world.
Although Katie displays incredible teaching skills, her accomplishments are not just the result of natural gifts. Katie takes initiative to grow and become a better teacher by asking for feedback and reflecting on her practice. This past spring break, she used her vacation time to visit KIPP schools on the east coast to learn from their best practices. Not only did she better herself as an educator, Katie immediately applied what she had learned in her classroom as well as exposed the new methods to other kindergarten teachers.
In The Classroom
In Katie’s classroom, children learn to live out four core values—Persist, Achieve, Team, and Honor. When you walk into her classroom, you will see strong and consistent systems and procedures. Her students are focused, working independently or with partners on literacy or math workstations. Students can tell you not only what they are doing but how it will help them grow. For example, when asked to explain what he was doing in the classroom, one of her students confidently responded, “I am matching letter sounds so I can be a good reader and go to college.” This is a typical response in her classroom because Katie is intentional in explaining the why behind everything she teaches or asks of her students and then connects it to their journey to climb the mountain to and through college.
Katie’s strength in teaching comes from being data driven, targeted, and well planned in her instruction. Her children know where they are performing in relation to their big goals and what they need to do to reach mastery. With these practices, she has consistently had the highest achievement data in the school.
Building a True LEGACY
While the achievement of Katie’s classroom is noteworthy, her greatest success is taking the strengths of her classroom and expanding it through her grade level team impacting the achievement of 168 kindergarteners. Under Katie’s leadership as grade level chair, 77% of all kindergartners are at or above level on the STEP assessment for reading.
Katie’s goal is to ensure that her impact on teaching and learning goes beyond the walls of KIPP Legacy. She has been KIPP Houston Public School’s kindergarten course leader, creating the kindergarten reading unit plans for our entire region. She also leads regional professional development sessions for KIPP Houston, sharing best practices and pushing teachers to be more data driven. She is a course leader for the foundation, writing and revising the KIPP Wheatley curriculum. Lastly, Katie is the community leader for the early childhood community for the KIPP network.
Katie does none of these roles for the recognition. She believes that our KIPP Team & Family extends beyond KIPP Houston and strives to learn from and share best practices with our entire network. Katie recognizes that because education is the social justice issue of our generation, the only way all students will learn is for us to work together.