Never Miss a Chance to Make a Difference
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Across KIPP New Jersey’s three high schools, our students’ journeys towards discovering their career and college pathways are supported by a range of resources that offer students the skills they need to achieve their goals.
From dual enrollment programs that allow seniors to earn college credits, to personalized college and career guidance, here’s how our high school programming is supporting the next generation of world-changers.
Dual Enrollment: A College Jumpstart at KIPP High Schools
Dual enrollment programs provide students with the opportunity to earn college credit and gain valuable experience tackling college-level coursework while still in high school.
This year, fifty students at KIPP Newark Lab High School and KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy enrolled in ‘Poetry in America,’ a class offered by Arizona State University (ASU), which provided college credits to students who successfully completed the course. Next year, KIPP High School in Camden will offer dual enrollment opportunities to its founding senior class.
Lab English teacher Toi McRae encouraged her students to enroll in the course, and it was a resounding success. Ninety percent of her students passed and earned college credits. “Students shouldn’t pass up dual enrollment opportunities. They can get a jump start on earning college credits, which saves you money down the line,” said McRae.
Senior Calvin Mitchell-Clark was a standout in the class, placing in the top 5% of all students who enrolled in the course nationally. "Taking the dual enrollment class through ASU was such an eye-opener," said Mitchell-Clark. "When I started, I knew it would be a challenge, but it helped push me to find meaning in every word I read. I’ve been able to apply that knowledge in English class. Plus, as someone who enjoys songwriting, the course helped me think about how I can create lyrics that tell a powerful story."
Examining the Past, Shaping the Future.
This school year, students at all three KIPP New Jersey high schools were required to take a new course, “African American and Latinx History of the United States.” Exploring everything from the United States’ role in the Cuban Revolution, to post-Civil War Reconstruction, the class offers a unique lens on the diasporas and policies that have shaped the United States and counts towards the U.S History graduation requirement.
“Our goal as we designed the course was to offer a perspective on U.S history that centers the history of Black and Latinx people and movements, while also offering a rigorous, AP-level course that will prepare them for college,” said Ashley Blount, KIPP New Jersey’s Director of Teaching and Learning who helped design the course.
At KIPP NCA, history teacher Armoni Foster is bringing that curriculum to life for the first time this year. A Duke University and KIPP NCA and Rise Academy alumnus, Foster believes the curriculum offers students an important view of U.S History.
“I’m Afro-Latina, and being able to teach Black and Latinx history is really meaningful to me and also reflective of our student body,” said Foster. “We start by covering colonization and imperialism, and then pivot to examining how US politics intersected with revolutionary movements across the globe. We want students to learn about structural racism, but also how people have fought against that effectively by using their resources to create change.”
For freshmen Jacob Cassey, the course stands out in comparison to his middle school history classes. “I like how it includes such a diverse history, where we’re studying everything from the Monroe Doctrine to South American independence movements,” said Cassey. As a Haitian-American, Cassey was particularly engaged by class discussions about the Haitian Revolution against French colonialism.
After its launch this school year, Blount says the course will be mandatory for all KIPP NJ high school freshmen starting during the 2023-24 school year.
KIPP Forward in Camden: Looking Ahead
KIPP High School in Camden will graduate its founding class in 2024, but KIPP Forward counselors like Paige Portner have been working alongside students from day one as they identify their career goals and college aspirations.
“Last year, I launched a career series for our ninth graders, which focused on bringing in speakers from different fields like technology and healthcare to help students understand what career options are available to them,” said Portner.
Community partnerships have played a key role in helping students identify their career interests. This year, the American Training Center brought in an EKG machine for students to use as they explored careers in healthcare. Hopeworks, a career placement organization, has also visited KHS to offer students opportunities to code and learn more about careers in technology.
A recent partnership with Cooper Hospital has introduced students like Yeslian Nieves to the healthcare field. Every Wednesday, Nieves heads to Cooper Hospital for five hours in the afternoon to visit with elderly patients, support patient transport, and organize medical supplies. “I hope to become a nurse or a therapist, and this program has helped me get my foot in the door and steer me towards healthcare,” said Nieves, whose goal is to attend the University of Pennsylvania, a school she visited last year with KHS and loved.
KIPP Forward Director Kenny Reyes says KHS is constantly seeking to expand opportunities for students. “Next year, we’re offering opportunities for students to dual enroll in career technical programs with Camden Community College, and there’s many new partnerships in the pipeline,” said Reyes. “We know our families really care that students find a pathway that leads to a strong career, and we’re here to provide that support to every student,” he added.
Meet Our Alumni In…
KIPP Lanning Square Middle alumnus Jha’kira Brown entered the workforce after graduating from high school in Willingboro, New Jersey, following her dream to join the medical field. Today, she works with adults who are mentally disabled in a group home setting, supporting residents with everything from administering medication, to taking them on trips to local attractions. “Ever since I was a child, I’ve wanted to help people. I’m a people person. My mom was my inspiration, and today we are co-workers,” said Brown.
She added that KIPP Forward counselors Kate Esposito and Kris Smith were instrumental in supporting her trajectory. “High school could be hard for me, but Ms. Esposito would always ask me what I needed to succeed,” said Brown. After graduation from high school, Brown was impressed with their personalized approach to support. “It wasn’t just email check-ins, we had monthly or weekly meetings, and I knew they really cared,” she said.
Today, Brown’s longer term plan is to attend nursing school, which her current employer will pay for after two years of work. Short-term? She’s recently purchased a car and is currently apartment hunting!
KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy Class of 2019 alumnus Kamil Vickers is making an impact as a senior at Villanova University.
Vickers has demonstrated a knack for impact already. At Villanova, he serves as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Student Government Association. “That experience has helped me learn how to facilitate dialogue between people who are coming to the table with different backgrounds and really bridge the gap for our minority students,” said Vickers, who will graduate this spring with a major in political science and a minor in Japanese.
This February, Vickers earned an invitation from the White House—Vice President Kamala Harris asked if he would join a group of young people for a conversation about mental health and the Black community. "To be invited to the White House was the most incredible moment of my life so far. V.P. Harris gave us the opportunity to come to the table and discuss how we can all improve mental health in our communities. It was inspiring to see the work being performed at the federal level," said Vickers.
Vickers’ KIPP Forward counselor is Freddie Santana, and the two met up this winter to watch their respective college teams play football at Villanova. (Santana is an alumnus of the College of the Holy Cross.) "Having someone from KIPP in my corner has been really reassuring, " said Vickers, whose long-term goal is to support youth, particularly those in communities like his home city of Newark.
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