Every year, our KIPP New Jersey teammates gather to honor our incredible educators and staff members at our TEAMspy Awards. We appreciate everything our staff do to support students, from our teachers who work together to make sure every child reaches their academic goals, to our operations staff who ensure our schools are safe and run efficiently. 

Our 2021 TEAMspy Awards honored staff whose commitment, teamwork and dedication to their students are unparalleled. Thank you! 

We invite you to celebrate this year’s winners with us, and hear their reflections on what their awards mean to them, below!

Kid Focus Award

The nominees of the Kid Focus Award remind us what it means to go above and beyond for our kids by always believing that promises made to children are sacred—and keeping their commitments to them 100% of the time. These teachers believe that our students are our students no matter what time of day it is, whether they’re at home or at school, or whether they are current students or alumni.

Newark: TaNisha Fordham, KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy
“I feel so loved and seen by my babies and I hope that they know that I love and see them. Loving and seeing each other is the most important work IN THE WHOLE WORLD.”

Camden: Kathia Sanchez, KIPP Whittier Middle
“Relationships and systems go hand and hand. Being kid-focused is easy when you are in a team that's willing to see, help and understand all barriers. Families, students, and staff all come together to support one another. ”

David Gunter (KIPP Thrive Academy)
Tasha Mitchell (KIPP Life Academy)

Linden Reed (KIPP Lanning Square Primary)
Kenny Reyes (KIPP Through College team)

Freedom Award

The nominees of the Freedom Award always exemplify this value by using the freedom that is given to them to develop new programs, practices, and ideas in service of our students. Our freedom nominees believe that some structures are necessary and freeing, but seek to remove, and avoid creating, unnecessary bureaucracy. 

Newark: Mauri Horton, KIPP Rise Academy

Camden: Joe Hejlek, KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy
“From the very beginning of my work with KIPP NJ, I’ve been given the freedom to seek out and take advantage of opportunities that benefit our students and families. In a year when all of us have faced challenges that we’ve never faced before, it’s been inspiring to work alongside so many brilliant, dedicated people to solve problems and provide our students with the best experience we possibly could.”

Marlena Luciano (KIPP Thrive Academy)
Daniel Helmsetter (KIPP BOLD Academy)

Meredith Schoyer (KIPP Lanning Square Primary)
Dana Kerrihard (KIPP Whittier Middle)

Improvement Award

The nominees of the Improvement Award constantly model what it means to get better by constantly seeking to improve their work and their school, no matter how good it already is and creating and sharing new practices, ideas, or approaches that improve our schools and communities.

Newark: Winston Roberts, KIPP Bold Academy
“As a first-year Grade Level Chair, I realized very early that I was leading a team of dynamic, creative, and kid-focused superstars. My job was to build a foundation of trust and to create a meeting structure that would give our teammates time to act on their strengths, so we could improve the remote learning experience for our kids. For the past five years I have been quietly taking leadership notes from some of the most outstanding teammates in the network and now I feel humbled to have my name included among them.”

Camden: Dennis Nelson, KIPP Lanning Square Middle
“For me, winning this award means that my school is getting closer to being what our students deserve. My improvement, means our improvement. As I said to my colleagues, “This award is for all of us.”

Luisa Carr (KIPP Team Academy)
Steven Jackson (KIPP Spark Academy)

Maggie Jennings (KIPP Lanning Square Primary)
Kaneesha Moore (KIPP Lanning Square Middle)

Fun Award:

The nominees of the Fun Award can always be found making class fun for students, and work fun for their co-workers. Fun means recipients don't take themselves too seriously and make time to laugh and play.

Newark: Jay Salazar, KIPP TEAM Academy
“Winning this award makes me very appreciative to have a school that trusts me enough to be myself inside and outside of the classroom.”

Camden:  Ryan Weaver, KIPP Whittier Middle
“Science empowers us with ways to better understand and question the world around us.  Receiving this year's TEAMspy for Fun is a huge honor—it has always been my mission to help bring science to life and to ensure that our students have great opportunities to experience the wonders of science and be scientists.  Thank you, KIPP NJ!”

Audrey Morris (KIPP Rise Academy)
Isaiah Wise (KIPP Bold Academy)

Meg Pauley (KIPP Lanning Square Primary)
Juanita Dozier (KIPP Lanning Square Middle)

Impact Award

The nominees of the Impact Award always show us what is possible by believing that the ultimate results we seek are all of our students getting to and through college or the career training they choose. Having a significant, measurable impact on students’ academic achievement or on improving the lives of teachers. 

Newark: Kaneshia Clifford,  KIPP Upper Roseville Academy
“As an educator, my life long goal is to fight for equitable education for ALL students because EVERY child deserves access to a choice filled life.  I strive to impact as many children as possible because I believe my work is not done until all of our city's children have access to a high-quality education. It is an honor to receive the impact award; however, my greatest reward is contributing to the success of future generations.”

Camden: Shamira Hawkins, KIPP Lanning Square Primary
“When I first became a teacher my goal was to positively influence students who look like me and come from my community. After eight years and an impact award, I am confident that I am well on my way to meeting that goal.”

Protim Adhikari (KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy)
Kelley Nelson (KIPP THRIVE Academy)

Crystal Peralta (KIPP Whittier Middle)
Taylor Wegmann (KIPP Whittier Middle)

TEAMwork Award

The nominees of the TEAMwork Award are teammates that we can count on at any time or any day because they put the interests of students and their team above personal interests and are ego-less in seeking to do what’s best for the whole organization and their colleagues. 

Camden: Bryan Wood, KIPP Lanning Square Middle
“It’s an honor to win the teamwork award. KIPP is special because of the amount of focus on team and family. Being seen as someone who has added value as a teammate on our amazing school team is very special and something I will treasure in the moment and hope to be an even better teammate in the years to come.”

Newark: Katie Ibeh, KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy
“Winning the Teamwork TEAMspy is just the cherry on top and I am grateful to work for an organization that takes time to celebrate. The real reward is getting our seniors to graduate and pursue their passions. The real reward is getting to work with compassionate, dedicated, and skilled colleagues  on a common mission.”

Ms. Dee (KIPP Lanning Square Primary)
Siedah Brunson (KIPP Whittier Middle)

Olayinka Okoye (KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy)
Dominique Cheatham (KIPP Upper Roseville Academy)

Heartbeat Award, Newark*

Winner: Stacie Alvarez, KIPP Truth Academy

Roger Cortegena (KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy)
Rebecca Fletcher (KIPP Seek Academy)

TEAM of the Year Award*

The nominees of the TEAM of the Year Award in Newark demonstrate what it looks like when amazing teammates come together and make magic happen for our kids and families. When we say there is no I in TEAM, we mean it! Let’s give it up for the winners of the TEAM of the Year award….The Six Grade Unicorns at Rise Academy! Congratulations to this phenomenal team!!

Winner: Custodial Team (represented by Roger Cortegana), KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy

KIPP SPARK Academy Para Team (represented by Marcia Williams)
Evening Learning Program Team (represented by Kaneshia Clifford)

Outstanding TEAMmates are Everything Award*

Join us in celebrating 11 Outstanding TEAMmates are Everything Winners from Newark…

Steven Jackson (SPARK) Pasha Zandieh (Rise)
Kathleen Aschinger (THRIVE) Adaria Facchinei (BOLD)
Alliyah Burgess (Seek) Angie Dominguez (NCP)
Barbara Kwaning (Life) Stephanie Rivera (NCA)
Alicia Quillin (KURA) Danielle Burroughs (NLHS)
Nikeya Stuart (TEAM)

*The selection of official finalists for the Heartbeat Award and additional noted awards did not occur in our Camden schools.

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