Excellence is defined differently by each of us. For high school math, excellence can pretty much be summed up in three words: Olvin and Kelly. Okay, maybe that is a stretch but they both did win the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award so pretty close, right?
But why do they teach with excellence? Why do they choose to push for something greater from each student and themselves each and every day in the classroom?
Olvin Carias, founding KIPP Generations teacher, won $20,000 in 2014 for his exceptional effort and devotion to his students. While being interviewed for this feature, Olvin admitted for the first time that he used some of his winnings to anonymously donate to his math team’s national competition fees.
For the past three years, Kelly Pfister has organized the sophomore trip, a five-day road trip to visit colleges, build the team, and reward hard work. Organizing this trip is no small feat. She is in charge of fundraising over $20,000, coordinating logistics, and chaperoning the trip. Kelly admits her favorite moment at KIPP so far was seeing a student in the Special Ed program tour the colleges and finally realize she was capable of attending one of these schools.
But why do they teach with excellence? Why do they push for something greater?
Teaching is a passion for both Olvin and Kelly.
“Teaching math goes beyond teaching knowledge,” Olvin shared. “It is encouraging, empowering, and hopefully influencing the kids we serve. I love for the possibility, the one that my students see as they realize they can do what they want.”
Similarly, Kelly loves teaching high school math, and even more specifically, high school geometry.
“Geometry is the first different type of math my students experience, “Kelly explained. “Geometry breaks their preconceived notions of what has to be right and wrong.”
Breaking preconceived notions is KIPP’s mission. We want to change the expectations society has for our students and prove the possible.
This is why Olvin and Kelly teach…why do you teach?