Last week, we covered the first four winners from this year’s TEAMspys. Here’s a look at the winners of our last three awards, the TEAMwork Award, the Kid Focus Award, and the ultimate prize, the Mountains Beyond Mountains Award, given to the person who consistently epitomizes all our values.


No community is complete and no group can succeed without people putting others first and caring about the success of the entire team. These four nominees for TEAMwork exemplify the value around the clock and our schools are better for it.

This year’s TEAMwork winner is Indira Jagoo, KIPP Seek Academy’s Dean of Students and families. Indira’s nominators say she goes above and beyond consistently to support students and staff at many campuses across the network. This had a major impact on kids as she’s managed incredibly challenging situations and tragedies, helped push suspension numbers lower and provided meaningful interventions that have helped more students integrate into their classrooms.

One nominator said:

"Indira really lives and brings to life the culture and high expectations that we have at Seek. She is a perfect blend of warm and demanding with students and is a true partner with families. There are so many times where she works hard with students and families who are facing challenges and then is able to coach and support staff and teachers.”

Other finalists:

Ken Calemmo – KIPP Lanning Square Primary

Abdul Ouedraogo – KIPP Rise Academy

Nicole Sunwabe – KIPP TEAM Academy

Kid Focus

Kid focus means we seek what is best for our students and the schools that would serve them, rather than what is best for ourselves or our individual teams. It means you believe promises to kids are sacred, so you keep them.

This year’s Kid Focus Award winner is Newark Collegiate Academy Assistant Principal Kyle Newsome. Kyle has been a stabilizing force for many students at NCA and has helped his colleagues understand how to support older students. He’s started music clubs and diabetes awareness to support individual kids and his NCA Comeback Scholars, once at high risk for dropping out because they were significantly behind on credits, are not only staying in school at a very high rate but are back on track to graduate.

One nominator said:

“Kyle is consistently kid-focused in all of the things he does at NCA. In his role as Dean, he builds some of the strongest relationships with our most struggling students. He has positive restorative conversations with kids after they struggle, and he supports them as they transition back into classes.”

Other finalists:

Rachel Dukes – KIPP Life Academy

Kristin Proft – KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy

Herbert Ruth – KIPP Rise Academy

Mountains Beyond Mountains

The Mountains Beyond Mountains Award goes to someone in our network who has most lived all of our values for years. It’s based on a book by the same name about Dr. Paul Farmer who, in the face of unbelievably difficult odds eradicating diseases in developing countries, refuses to give up and has made an incredible impact across the globe.

This year’s Mountains Beyond Mountains Award winner is KIPP Lanning Square Primary kindergarten teacher and grade level chair, Shan Martin. She has been teaching at KIPP NJ since 2004 and has filled just about every need our network has had. She’s taught social studies, science, Liberation Arts, and kindergarten, and is still pushing herself to improve every single day. She has consistently been a rock star, but even more she has been a parent to our students, a mentor to new teachers, a leader in our buildings, and a tireless advocate for doing whatever it takes to fulfill our mission.

In the words of one nominator:

“She impacts every classroom in our school - going as far as spending days at a time in other classrooms to ensure ALL of our students are learning and growing at the highest levels possible. She is one of the most kid-focused people I've ever had the pleasure of working with, regularly taking students on outings, keeping in touch with students she taught 10+ years ago, and relentlessly holding high expectations for every one of our kids and teachers.”

Other Finalists

Stacie Alvarez – KIPP THRIVE Academy

Diane Revalski – KIPP THRIVE Academy

Kylie Taylor – KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy

TEAMspys winners are just a small sample of the great staff we have who are a pleasure to work with every single day. Next year, we’ll recognize a new group of inspirational people around our growing network, who work tirelessly for kids to put them on the path to college or careers day in and day out.

Never Miss a Chance to Make a Difference

Subscribe to KIPP New Jersey’s email newsletter and stay in the loop.

Thank you for subscribing!