One of the central tenets of our ‘Heartbeat,’ the core values that KIPP New Jersey lives by, is that our community shares a deep belief that our students will change the world. 

To that end, we support students as they set ambitious goals for their lives and believe that every student who walks through our doors has the potential for outstanding achievement. 

Whether they’re demonstrating their leadership ability on the soccer field or their algebra skills in the classroom, our students are gaining the skills and confidence they need to pursue any path that leads to their highest aspirations.

Featured here are the students and teammates who bring our heartbeat to life every day in our schools in Camden.

Music Class With Mr. McKay in Camden

Visitors to KIPP Lanning Square Primary probably don’t need a classroom number to find Kyle McKay’s music class. Instead they’ll hear the drumbeats echoing from the hallway. “When I was a kid, music was my favorite thing, and I used to get in trouble all the time for tapping on my desk,” said McKay. “But my music teachers always supported me. As a drummer in my high school marching band, I realized how much I enjoyed teaching my classmates who struggled.”

Today, McKay inspires the next generation of musicians in his classes to find joy through music. He hopes his students remember highlights from his classroom like the “Walk of Confidence” he hosts at the end of his classes, where students can show off their dance moves and rhythm. “I want my students to learn how to do things even when they’re hard, to develop muscle memory, and to be mindful and present in everything they do in life,” said McKay. 

“Math is Life” in Mr. Shiver’s and Mr. Collin’s Classroom

At KIPP Lanning Square Middle, teachers Rahim Shiver and Christopher Collins are making math come alive for their students by sharing their love for problem-solving (and some corny jokes!). “Growing up, math and history were my favorite subjects. I loved to find different ways to arrive at a solution,” said Shiver.

Their approach has made math more enjoyable for students like Rayanna Torres. “Math challenges my brain. But Mr. Shiver is always there to support me—and make jokes. He pushes me to try my best, and I can apply math to things like helping me spend my birthday money,” said Torres. 

“So much of the math we teach is applicable to life. We teach everything from card playing and probability to calculating interest on loans and down payments,” said Collins. “These are practical skills we want our students to carry forward from our classroom, and making math feel applicable and engaging is really important to us as educators,” he added. 

Spreading a Love for Reading With "Book Arks" Across Camden

A group of KIPP High School students teamed up with local partners to spread a love of reading in their community this year. Working with Tom Martin of The Free Books Project and Larry Abrams of BookSmiles, students painted and distributed three-shelf libraries called Book Arks to neighborhoods throughout Camden.

Junior Eniyah Boyd helped lead the project. “I really enjoy reading, and it’s important to me that my community has access to books. A lot of people in Camden don’t have access to libraries, and the Book Arks will allow them to discover their love of reading.”

Boyd and her classmates used their artistic skills to paint the little libraries, each one representing a different time of day. “Art brings joy to communities, and I believe aesthetics make a difference in how happy people are in their communities,” said Boyd, who hopes to become an illustrator in the future.  

Joyful Reading at Sumner

Enter Sakia Crawford’s classroom, and you’ll find students hanging on her every word during her daily read alouds. But Crawford knows that reading skills must be nurtured outside the classroom, too. As the school’s Culture of Achievement Coordinator, she is always finding ways to celebrate students' growth and success. 

During Sumner’s winter break, she pushed for students to participate in a reading contest and was sure to shout out and highlight the students who participated and excelled. “I believe reading is the cornerstone for education and academic success. Cultivating a love for reading shapes the way children see the world and those around them. Creating a winter reading challenge at Sumner invited scholars and families to share priceless moments of bonding, learning, and competition,” said Crawford. 

Basketball Champions at KIPP Hatch Middle

The persistence of KIPP Hatch Middle boys basketball players paid off this year; the team won the Camden City Basketball Championship. Coach Shakoor Woodson said the season was full of lessons in hard work and skill development. “This has been the best coaching job in the last six years. I watched this team improve in so many ways over the season, from becoming better players and developing sportsmanship to being better young men off the court as well,” said Woodson, who added that KIPP Lanning Square Middle’s team played an excellent championship game against Hatch.

Hatch eighth grader and student-athlete Kyle Scott was named the Most Valuable Player. “I improved my overall game. Rebounding and playing defense are what I worked on the most this season. But I’ve also developed as a person, I’m more disciplined and I’m starting to take my schoolwork more seriously,” said Scott, whose ‘plan A’ is to be an NBA player and ‘plan B’ is to start his own business. 

Never Miss a Chance to Make a Difference

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