There isn’t a day that I don’t hear from leaders, alumni, and current KIPPsters about a teacher that has gone above and beyond in one of our schools. [...]
The teachers I am proud to honor today have received the 2021 Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award, named in honor of Harriett Ball — the master teacher who shaped the creation of KIPP. This award is given annually [by the KIPP Foundation] to a select group of KIPP teachers from across the country, representing grades K-12.
KIPP wouldn’t be KIPP without phenomenal teaching. These educators are living proof of that. They are carrying on Harriett Ball’s legacy of academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to educational equity and justice.
Let’s meet this year’s [KIPP SoCal] winners:
Maria Christina Gonzalez
Spanish Teacher at KIPP Promesa Prep
Ms. Gonzalez is not only a founding teacher at KIPP Promesa Prep, but a KIPP parent as well! Since 2015, her Spanish students have achieved mastery for their grade level at nearly 90 percent or higher. Having grown up in the Boyle Heights community of East LA, she is committed to ensuring that her students are proud of their shared community and Latinx heritage. By giving her students the skills and knowledge they need to master the Spanish language, she helps bolster her students’ sense of identity and belonging.
“Christina is the most committed, most humble, most giving person I know, and this all translates into her being an amazing teacher for our KIPP students,” says Adriana Rodriguez, School Leader at KIPP Promesa Prep. “She is the heart of our school, the mom of our team, the first to step in and help whenever needed.”
Katie Johnson Martens
English Teacher at KIPP Sol Academy
As the Reading Intervention teacher at KIPP Sol, Ms. Martens leads the work to ensure that English Language Learners can succeed. Year after year, her students achieve double-digit gains in their reading levels. To help encourage a love of reading, Ms. Martens leads on-campus Reading Nights, which she successfully transitioned to virtual events during the pandemic. Her innovative events for students and families include “book tastings,” family book discussions, and a writing program called NaNoRaMo where students set a writing goal each day for a month.
“If you are a student who is lucky enough to have Ms. Marten as a teacher, you can consider your life changed,” says Libby Gronquist, School Leader at KIPP Philosophers Academy (former Founding Teacher at KIPP Sol Academy). “You will experience different worlds through literature, go on adventures in writing novels, and fall in love with reading.”
Learn more at the KIPP Foundation.
About the Author: The nonprofit KIPP Foundation trains and develops outstanding educators to lead KIPP public schools; provides tools, resources and training for excellent teaching and learning; promotes innovation; and facilitates the exchange of insights and ideas across KIPP and other public schools and organizations.