Shequelle Foster-Gims is returning to KIPP Houston to be the School Leader of KIPP Spirit. She has served in education for over 17 years, most recently completing her sixth year serving as a Principal and Assistant Principal in Fort Bend ISD. She previously spent two years as the Director of Operations at KIPP 3D Academy, and prior to becoming an administrator, Shequelle was a 3rd grade and PreK through 5th grade Science Teacher in HISD. She attended Southern University for undergrad and the University of Houston to obtain her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. When Shequelle is not working or learning, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
1. What led you into teaching?
From a young age, I always thought about teaching, but my initial plan was to be a doctor. I went to Debakey High School for Health Professionals with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. I applied for medical school and did not get in, so I thought I’d take a year to study to retake the MCAT and “just teach” in the meantime. I quickly realized how fulfilling and fun teaching was, and fell in love with profession. I did not think twice about the medical field after my first year. In the medical profession, you work to save lives and improve the quality of a person’s life. As an educator, you’re in essence doing the exact same thing. We are impacting lives even more so because our work charts the course for our students’ lives, the lives of their children, and future generations. I’ve always wanted to affect lives and I always thought it’d be in a physical sense through medicine, but this is so much more powerful. Being an educator impacts the mind, body, and spirit, and that is what makes this career such an amazing journey.
2. What made you come back to KIPP?
I came back because in my opinion, KIPP is more than a district, a program, or a network of schools. There is deep meaning, engagement, and purpose associated with being a part of a movement – a movement that has successfully challenged how the world views the power of education by bringing together a group of like- minded people determined to prove the possible. I came back because I love being a part of this movement that has impacted the way so many people view what educators do every day for kids, our communities, and the world.
3. What assets and experiences do you bring that you think will be valuable in your new role?
I think my experience working in a number of different settings and coming back to KIPP is definitely an asset. I understand and know the KIPP way and I am of course 100% on board with articulating the “why” behind the KIPP way to parents, students, and new staff members. My experience with KIPP and the district and working in different settings has helped me see all that’s out there in terms of resources and trends, and what great teaching looks like. More importantly, I’ve been able to connect with and learn from wonderful educators throughout the Houston area, and the power behind sharing ideas and thought partnering will serve as the most valuable resource as I pull from experiences and what I’ve learned from others and apply that learning to the needs of our students.
4. What are you most excited about in your new role at KIPP?
I’m excited about growing great kids, partnering with parents, and working alongside the energetic and very knowledgeable staff of KIPP Spirit. I know that together, we can make a difference in the lives of our children. I saw one of my former students registering her child as a student at ZENITH, so every time I think about working at KIPP Spirit, I feel I’ve come full circle. The South Houston community is where I first entered the teaching and leading field, so coming back here and working in this community has been extremely fulfilling and almost surreal. I’m excited about working with the KIPP Spirit Team and Family to realize all of the dreams and ideas we have about what students in this community can achieve come to life.
5. What is your vision for your school this next year and how will you work to achieve it?
The vision for the school is for students to develop confidence in knowing that they can achieve anything they dream with hard work and strong character. As a team, we will revisit our full mission and vision statement to align it to our academic and character curriculum. We want to build a culture of excellence so that our kids leave knowing what excellence looks like and how to persevere through the hard work it takes to achieve excellence.