At KIPP SoCal, we see the transformative impact that our educators and school leaders have in inspiring the boundless potential within each of our KIPPsters. And Adriana Rodriguez, KIPP SoCal’s Director of Leadership Development, has embodied this power throughout her career.
In 2009, after completing Teach for America at Main Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles, Rodriguez was drawn to KIPP SoCal’s mission and joined the team as a founding first-grade teacher at KIPP Raices Academy (KRA) in East LA. While at KRA, she also served as a kindergarten and third-grade teacher before becoming the Dean.
But her passion and dedication to our KIPPsters didn’t end there — it also fueled her inspiration to join the KIPP Foundation's former Fisher Fellowship Program for aspiring school leaders. After completing the program, she became the founding school leader at KIPP Promesa Prep in Boyle Heights, where she led and inspired a dedicated group of educators for six years.
In 2021, Rodriguez transitioned into her new leadership role, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge. Having gone through a similar fellowship program, she now has the opportunity to uplift and empower KIPP SoCal’s School Leader Fellows, who will make a difference in our KIPPsters lives.
She frequently emphasizes the importance of building a culture of trust at our schools. Last year, during her brief tenure as the interim school leader at KIPP Academy of Innovation (KAI) in East LA, she was heartened to see that many of her founding KIPP Promesa students were attending KAI. Her dedication to building meaningful relationships became apparent as she quickly re-established trust with many of her former students.
Her dedication to our KIPPsters and her passion for reading inspired her to start KAI's first-ever book club in June 2022 with three former students and other enthusiastic students. Despite her interim position ending in December 2022, Rodriguez has continued to fulfill her promise to her students, visiting KAI bi-weekly to oversee the club, which has grown from five to ten members.
KAI Book Club members discussing "Five Feet Apart" by Rachael Lippincott
“As a Latina woman and leader serving in a community that is primarily Latinx, it's important for our students to see people they can look up to, talk to, and get advice from,” said Rodriguez. “These connections can last for a lifetime. We are part of their lives for a moment, but if we nurture those relationships, we can be part of their lives forever.”
Since launching, the club has completed three books, all chosen and voted on by the students, and is currently reading “American Royals” by Katharine McGee. KAI also purchases the selected books for the students to keep in their home libraries.
During the book discussions, Rodriguez makes it a point to call on every student to allow them to share their perspectives and show them that their opinions are valued. She also shapes the discussions around probing questions that dig deeper into their understanding and reinforces their critical thinking skills.
The KAI Book Club is currently reading "American Royals" by Katherine McGee
“I wanted to share my love of reading because I believe reading will get you places,” said Rodriguez. “Reading helps you learn, helps you grow, and helps prepare you for whatever you want to do in life.”
Rodriguez believes we must prioritize fostering joy at our schools with programs and clubs that cater to our students' wants and needs. For example, when asked why they joined the book club, the students agreed they enjoyed bonding and making meaningful connections through literature outside the classroom.
In a short time, Rodriguez has been able to build trust to create a joyful, safe space for KAI students to be their true, authentic selves. She plans on continuing the KAI Book Club and looks forward to seeing her students develop a lifetime love of reading.
In honor of Read Across America Day, we hope you carve out some time to dive into a book that fuels your love of reading. Get more book recommendations from the National Education Association.