The Making of a Middle School Grounded in Love & Community

The Making of a Middle School Grounded in Love & Community

The wait is over! After much anticipation, KIPP Compton Community School officially welcomed its first-ever fifth-grade cohort to its new upper school campus on Wilmington Avenue.

The day was filled with joy and enthusiasm as over 90 founding fifth-grade scholars explored their new campus, engaged with their new teachers, and settled into their new classrooms for the very first time.  

First Day of School picture
Smiles were seen all around campus at KIPP Compton Upper School for the first day of school.

KIPP Compton Upper School’s Founding School Leader, Courtney Richardson, is committed to fostering a school community that gives students a sense of belonging, builds their self-esteem, and helps them understand who they are as they learn, grow, and lead in a global world. As a founding school leader, her fearless leadership will be guided and grounded by the school’s values of love, optimism, integrity, and courage.

Courtney, who has ten years of experience working in education, joined the KIPP SoCal team in 2019 and served as a Dean, Assistant School Leader, and School Leader Fellow at KIPP Empower Academy & KIPP Ignite Academy. At the start of her career, Courtney served as a middle school educator and believes these classroom experiences helped shape her into the confident, passionate, and compassionate school leader she is today.

“Middle school years are very special — they’re formative years in a student's life where they are stepping into becoming themselves,” said Courtney. “They’re taking the world around them, analyzing it, and trying to decide how they fit in this world, how they show up in this world, and ultimately, what sort of impact or mark they want to leave in the spaces they’re in.”

To bring the school’s vision to life, Courtney has brought together a group of passionate, innovative, and mission-driven educators committed to illuminating our scholars’ understanding of themselves through high-quality instruction and culturally relevant teaching practices.

With this commitment in mind, KIPP Compton educators participated in a “Community & Cultural Wealth” on-the-ground professional development day with Compton Unified Board President Denzell Jordan-Perry to tour the site of the new Compton High School and Compton City Councilman Andre Spicer to ground themselves in Compton’s rich culture and history. During this session, the team also enjoyed a meal at Planet Health Compton Vegan Restaurant & Cafe.

“I think so much of being a middle school educator is choosing to lean into the choices students make as they’re figuring themselves out and uplift them, empower them, affirm them, and make them feel special as they’re growing,” said Courtney. 

Block party collage
Highlights from KIPP Compton Upper School's Back-to-School Block Party on August 12.

Over the summer, the small but mighty KIPP Compton Upper School team worked tirelessly to build meaningful relationships with families and community members before the school year began. The team conducted over 50 home visits to personally welcome our founding KIPPsters and families. 

KIPP Compton Upper School Registrar Maria Rodriguez also put together a Back-to-School Block Party on August 12, which allowed families and community members, including Compton Mayor Emma Sharif, to tour the campus before officially opening their doors on August 17. The community event also included free hair services from Darla's Dollhouse, Barber Gurus, and Laid by Deej for our KIPPsters to prepare them for their first day of school. Additional community vendors included Serrano's Party Rentals, DJ Refuze, Faith Uniforms, and Garcia's Tacos.

“Children being able to see children that look like them and be around staff that looks like them is a big plus for me,” said KIPP Compton fifth-grade parent Jaquita Brown, who attended the Block Party and whose daughter was also part of the founding class at KIPP Compton Lower School. 

Family Home Visits
Over the summer, KIPP Compton Upper School conducted family home visits (left) and built a community garden (right).

To lean into their community school roots, KIPP Compton Upper School teamed up with their sister campus at the lower school to host a hugely successful Back-to-School Resource Fair on July 29, which welcomed more than 500 families and community members and provided free school supplies, backpacks, resources, health screenings, and more.

The two schools also partnered with CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) to build a “Garden of Curiosity” community garden on July 15 so that our KIPPsters, families, and community members can access fresh fruits and vegetables grown right in their community.

If you’re looking for a middle school that fosters a love of learning and is deeply rooted in its community, look no further than KIPP Compton Upper School. 

Enroll Your Scholar at KIPP Compton Today!