In celebration of Father’s Day, we asked four dads about being a Big KIPPster and a father. We wanted to share their perspectives on building a better tomorrow through their children and their work with hundreds, even thousands, of Houston’s children.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a dad and how has that affected your work?
I’ve learned that my children are not me; they are unique human beings that have some similarities, interests, and talents as me but different ones as well. There’s no right or wrong set of these things and the right thing to do is to nourish our children’s interests and talents as they arise. That differentiation certainly plays out in our classrooms and schools as well.
- Mike Feinberg, KIPP Co-Founder and father to Gus, 10, and Abadit, 5
How does being a dad affect your work at KIPP and with our students?
Being a dad certainly affects my work at KIPP and with our students and families. Since becoming a father, I have a stronger perspective of how students and parents perceive things at the school level. I’ve also learned much more clearly that each child is unique with their own set of needs because my own two children are so very different.
- Ken Goeddeke, Head of School and father of Gabriela, 14, and Matthew, 11
How do you balance working at KIPP and being a dad?
More than just working at KIPP, being a teacher and a parent is an exercise in patience, for there are many moments throughout the year where my classroom of students and their challenges steal my thoughts. However, the patience is rewarded by uninterrupted time during summer, winter, Thanksgiving, and Spring Break. Balancing any work with being a dad is tough, but having my eldest son downstairs in PreK so I can peek on him through the window, see him sleeping on his mat during nap time, or watch him run and laugh while playing at recess is truly priceless. I also could not be successful as a teacher or a father without the help from my amazing wife.
- Jason Swilley, fourth-grade Teacher at KIPP SHINE Prep and father to Keen, 4, and Jude, 1
What is the best thing your dad taught you that you’d like to pass on to our KIPPsters?
In this country anything is possible with hard work... I am a first-generation American, and my father moved to this country to fulfill his American dream. He taught me that it does not matter where you come from or what your background is if you work hard and follow your heart anything is possible.
- Steve Khadam-Hir, Founding School Leader of KIPP Academy West and father of 2-year and 3-month old sons
What is your favorite part of being a dad?
I like laughing with my kids and enjoying time together. What also makes it fun are the micro moments while they grow up where you get to see the great characteristics that they possess come out. There was a time when my daughter was at her first day of swim team tryouts and she was struggling so much….literally crying in the pool while she was trying to complete her laps…but she persisted and finished. I was SO proud of her and this showed her resilience. My son is very empathetic and is highly socially intelligent. One day at Discovery Green, while we were playing football together, he noticed a lonely boy about his age that looked sad. My son told me that he was going to ask the boy to play even though he had never met him. Once those two started playing, a whole host of other boys started joining in. Within 5 minutes, it was now a whole group of kids playing football together. Stepping back, I realized that what I was seeing would’ve never happened if it was not for the kindness and empathy of my son in taking the first step in asking a lonely boy that he didn’t know if he wanted to play football.
- Ken Goeddeke
I love reading to my children at bedtime, having a regular family dinner where we talk about what happened that day or get to answer the kids’ entertaining questions about life, and I especially love playing Nerf Basketball with my kids and roughhousing until we get in trouble with mom.
- Mike Feinberg
I love getting home and having my two year-old run and come give me a hug and my three month-old laugh at my funny faces. I love watching my kids learn from books. I can literally see them thinking and making connections.
- Steve Khadam-Hir
My favorite part of being a father is watching my two sons learn and grow. Every step and misstep, every success and failure, every milestone reached, I find new levels to which my heart and my love for them can grow. I came to KIPP as a fellow to learn to teach at KIPP SHINE Prep. Many of my mentors now lead KIPP schools. I met my wife at KIPP, I proposed to her at KIPP, and my boys have gone to KIPP daycare. My oldest will soon be in KIPP’s PreK3 program. My favorite part about being a father is that my sons will forever be a part of this KIPP Team & Family!
- Jason Swilley
To all of our dads who fight for their children and all the many other children, thank you.