By: Rachelle Minix, School Leader
Seeing the joy on parents and students’ faces back on campus has been heartfelt! It’s been an incredible month since we launched our Hybrid Learning, where we opened the doors to our relocated, permanent campus and welcomed back our first cohorts of students to attend in-person learning, while continuing to provide a comprehensive distance learning program.
It’s beautiful to see — our students are engaged, and excited to be back in their learning community, and the teachers and team have really created a learning environment that not only keeps our students healthy and safe, but that’s also welcoming and inspiring — whether in-person or distance learning.
KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy (KAPA), a tuition-free, college preparatory charter public middle school in Southeastern San Diego, is a school where every child is deeply cared for — as a learner and as a person.
In Spanish, “Adelante” means “to progress” and it is what we will continue to do during this COVID-19 pandemic, safely and together! What continues to inspire that drive comes from some of my early experiences in school — as a former student attending San Diego Unified School District schools, I was fortunate enough to have some amazing teachers who brought the magic of learning alive. What’s more, they made me feel loved and included in the warmth of their classrooms.
And, for the past 18 years, we have and continue to educate students from the Southeastern neighborhoods of San Diego and help them graduate college at a rate 3x higher than the national average for systemically under-resourced communities.
Q: What are some of the key ways in which you have returned to a safe learning environment for your students and families?
A: KIPP Adelante takes the Health & Safety of our community very seriously. In preparation for our students’ return, our Operations team worked closely with our regional KIPP SoCal Public Schools Operation team to learn more about the San Diego County Health & Safety guidelines to ensure that we implemented them at our school. Our students are placed 6 feet apart, and if at a shared table 4 feet apart with a plexi shield. Our students were each provided with their own individual supplies, laptops, backpacks, water bottles, and face masks. Each day our team conducts a health screening, and temperature check, as well as ensures students wash their hands before entering school. At the end of each day, our cleaning team sanitizes all the rooms and surfaces to ensure each space is clean and disinfected for next day use. And, as an additional layer of protection, our students and team members have the ability to participate in a weekly COVID Test Screening.
COMMUNITY/ NEW CAMPUS
Q: As a San Diegan for over 18 years, what are some of your community goals?
A: With KIPP Adelante being a part of the Southeastern San Diego community we want to become not only another great school option for students and parents, but a school that can also provide and connect our community to the resources that are needed to every household.
For instance, our Hybrid Learning model is helping to change the way we think about education and break down barriers that have traditionally existed in the education system ranging from technology access and support, community education resources to meal distribution and mental health services.
Q: Founded in 2003 and formerly located in downtown San Diego, what do you want families to know about KAPA’s new, permanent home in Southeastern San Diego?
A: KIPP Adelante has a beautiful campus located at 426 Euclid Avenue in San Diego, but it isn’t just the campus that makes it beautiful, it is the students, families, and team. We want our students to feel connected to their community, as well as have access to what all students should have access to: a healthy life and a great education. Our goal is to bring as many resources, programs, and learning opportunities to our students and families! Part of our responsibility is to listen to what our students and families want and need so that we tailor our resources to meet the actual, not perceived, needs of our community.
Q: As a School Leader, what motivates you every day?
Ultimately, I am motivated by the belief that excellence in education is a tool of social justice and part of our fight for liberation. If done well, a child’s educational experience will equip them in mind, body and spirit to advocate for themselves, our communities and for justice, equity and positive change in our world.
Q: In 10 years from now, what do you hope you will have been able to accomplish at KIPP Adelante?
I hope that we are a model of innovation, community, advocacy, and achievement. I hope that we are a school where young people form strong identities, skills, opinions and voices, and that they remain curious, equity-minded, community-centered, loving and fiercely determined to pursue a free, choice-filled life.
Q: What do you think is unique about a KIPP SoCal education vs. either where you came from or other schools you’ve worked at?
A: KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy is a unique school because we operate as a team intent on doing everything we can to create the best experiences and opportunities for our students and families. We are consistently examining our practice and evolving as educators as we work to define and live out the vision for a truly liberatory education — that includes, but not limited to the following:
- attending to the holistic wellness of our children and families (physical and mental health as well as relationships are prioritized),
- ensuring academic rigor and achievement for all students (intentionally including our students with learning differences and who are learning English as a second language),
- emphasizing character development (we are anchored by our values of ganas, reflection, excellence, advocacy and love), and
- providing authentic opportunities for our children to explore their interests and identities in the arts, sciences, sports, and many other enrichments.
At KIPP Adelante, as we celebrate a safe return to school, we stay focused on igniting the hearts and minds of our students and empowering them to be advocates for themselves, their community and in the world through our rigorous academics, comprehensive enrichments, and character-focused environment. The path to and through college begins here! Join our family; we are now enrolling for the 2021-22 school year and have openings for 5th and 6th graders. Learn more at kippsocal.org/adelante.
The story was originally published on the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
About the Author: Rachelle Minix is the School Leader at KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy. Previously, she was the founding Principal of KIPP Sol Academy. Rachelle began her career as a high school special education teacher at both the Los Angeles Unified School District and Green Dot, and Assistant Director of The Kelter Center, a nonpublic agency. Rachelle began her teaching career with Teach For America in Los Angeles where, among many things, she is proud to have coached several undefeated girl’s soccer teams. Rachelle earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, her master’s degree at California State University Dominguez Hills, and her doctorate at the University of Southern California.