From the Spurs to KIPP

by John Holt on Sep 02, 2016

in Team & Family

Just a little over one month ago, I worked my final day with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs communications department. Everything about working with the Spurs was unbelievable, and my favorite part about the organization was undoubtedly its family-type culture. 

On August 15, I transitioned and began my new role as KIPP Houston Public Schools’ communications and community events coordinator. My hope was that I would find a similar family atmosphere. 

I quickly learned that KIPP is also all about Team & Family. 


My first day on the job was also the first same day for thousands of students. I spent the morning at the KIPP Northeast campus where I felt the bustle of the year kicking off with excitement, nervousness, and curiosity. I wasn’t alone in my happy nervous state. We all were stepping out into new experiences and opportunities. 

Outside of KIPP’s Polaris Academy for Boys, school leader Aaronthomas Green greeted students with a handshake and smile as they entered. From the outside speakers, 10-time Grammy Winner John Legend’s song, “If You’re Out There” played. Some of the song’s lyrics seemed especially appropriate for the KIPPsters and myself, as we embarked on a brand new school year. 

If you hear this message, wherever you stand
I'm calling every woman, calling every man
We're the generation
We can't afford to wait
The future started yesterday and we're already late


After spending a little over an hour at KIPP Northeast, I was asked to head directly to our regional services office. 

The reason for the unexpected change in agenda was the news of a tragic accident that occurred outside of our school. 

As soon as I arrived to the office, I quickly dropped off my things and made my way toward the accident scene where police, media, and observers were all posted. 

Having spent the past several years working in professional sports environments, unlikely scenarios arise from time to time. 

Yet I had never experienced one like this. 

Someone had just died and everyone in our building was affected in some way.  

While the incident was nothing short of devastating, my new co-workers impressed me with their level of calmness and compassion for the families involved. 

Everyone worked together to respond to media, visit to families, and counsel students and teachers, all with the heart of a Team & Family.


Late in the afternoon, I was finally able to sit down at my new desk and take a deep breath. 

To my surprise, my desk had been fully decorated with balloons and welcome signs! 

Was I dreaming? Were these balloons and welcome signs all really for me?  

I was completely shocked but also felt appreciated and connected to the team--not a feeling we all experience every day.  

My final first day item was listening to superintendent Sehba Ali deliver a message to staff members regarding the morning. Her words were warming to hear, especially as she closed by encouraging each of us to reach out to our families and let them know how much we love them. 

When I walked toward my car and prepared to head home following Sehba’s words, I took a few seconds to reflect on the overall day. No matter how I tried to view or portray it, the day’s entirety circled back to a common theme of family.

Having officially said farewell to my Spurs Family last month, it truly was humbling to now be a part of this family here at KIPP. 

After a day that featured highs, lows, and everything in between, I was able to smile and genuinely feel at home.