Our Leadership Team

Nikki Barnes

Managing Director of Secondary Schools

rbarnes@kippma.org

617-230-9668

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Nikki joined the KIPP MA Team and Family in 2013 as a 6th grade humanities teacher at KIPP Academy Boston Middle School. Nikki has spent her professional career teaching in and advocating for public schools.  She has over 20 years of classroom experience in elementary, middle and high school.

After serving as the Dean of Students at KIPP Academy Boston in 2014, she became the School Leader in 2015.  Under her leadership, KIPP Academy Boston experienced some of the highest student growth in the state of Massachusetts, including three grade levels performing among the top ten schools in the KIPP Network with the highest reading growth on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment

Nikki’s accomplishments as a teacher include being the first Black classroom teacher to earn National Board Certification in the state of Virginia.  She was also one of two teachers chosen to represent the state of Virginia at the National Teacher Forum in 2000 held in Washington, DC. She also has nearly 10 years of experience working in educational non-profit organizations focusing on teacher quality issues and minority community outreach including overseeing a multi-million dollar partnership with The Tom Joyner Foundation to increase the number of fully licensed teachers of color in high minority, high poverty districts.

Nikki is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic University (1991) and Virginia Commonwealth University (2003) where her graduate research around Teacher Leadership led to the creation of the VCU Center for Teacher Leadership.

Nikki is the proud mother of her two children: Adrianna, a first grade teacher; and Jordan, a student at Tufts University.

Caleb Dolan

Executive Director

cdolan@kippma.org

617-595-7315

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Since 2011, Caleb has served as Executive Director for the KIPP Massachusetts region. KIPP MA has grown from operating one middle school in Lynn serving nearly 370 kids and families in grades 5-8 to a network of two districts in Lynn and Boston currently serving over 1,880 kids and families in grades K-12.

Caleb began his teaching career in 1996 as a Teach for America corps member in rural North Carolina. In 2000, he joined KIPP and co-founded the third KIPP school in the country on a peanut field in Gaston, NC with 80 5th graders. He taught and led KIPP Gaston College Preparatory (GCP) for eight years and oversaw the addition of a high school to the KIPP Gaston network in 2005. This expansion enabled KIPP Gaston to serve over 700 KIPPsters in grades 5-12. Under Caleb’s leadership, 100% of students in GCP’s first three graduating classes were accepted to college.

In 2009, Caleb moved back to New England to serve dual roles as Chief Academic Officer for KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School and Director of Principal Development for the KIPP Foundation. As KIPP Lynn’s Chief Academic Officer, Caleb was in charge of coaching teachers and incoming leaders, while his role as Director of Principal Development allowed him to mentor and coach new KIPP principals across the country. He also led the team that created the KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching that serves as the professional development model utilized across all KIPP regions today.

In 2014, Caleb was named one of Boston’s 40-under-40 Business leaders by Boston Business Journal. He graduated from Colby College and lives in Boston with his wife, Joanna, and daughters, Tallulah and Mavis.

Rachel Heuisler

Managing Director of Talent

rheuisler@kippma.org

646-335-2765

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Rachel joined KIPP MA in 2017 as the Managing Director of Talent and Operations. In this role, she oversees staff recruitment and selection, human resources, performance management, Teaching Fellows program, operations, compliance, and technology.  

Rachel’s career in education began in 2001 teaching pre-kindergarten and coaching varsity basketball in Belgium. She moved to New York and taught fifth and seventh grade at Public School 7 in East Harlem. In 2006, Rachel became the founding sixth grade writing teacher at KIPP Infinity Middle School, one of the highest performing charter schools in the country. In 2010, she transitioned to the KIPP NYC Talent Team, helping the region expand from four schools with 200 employees to eleven schools and over 800 staff members. As KIPP NYC’s Senior Director of Leadership Development, she launched an internal principal preparation program.

Rachel graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University with a B.A. in African American Studies and holds an M.A. in Elementary Education from Hunter College. Outside of work, Rachel can be found making forts and muffins with her children, Shane and Brooke.

Emily Rodriguez

Managing Director of Elementary Schools

erodriguez@kippma.org

215-870-2096

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Emily joined KIPP Massachusetts in 2012 as the Director of Leadership Development. Prior to joining KIPP, Emily spent several years working with two charter school management organizations in New York City, Success Academies and Explore Schools (ESI). Emily began as the Dean of Students at Explore Charter School, ESI’s flagship school, before being promoted to the role of Upper School Academic Director. During her tenure as Academic Director, student test scores increased 23% in ELA and 25% in math. Emily most recently served as the Director of Literacy for the ESI network, which consists of four elementary schools and one middle school. At Success Academies, Emily served as the founding principal of SA 3 elementary school. During her time as principal, the school earned an “A” rating on the NYC Department of Education’s school report card and student test scores were 30% higher than the NY State average.

Emily began her career as a middle school teacher, working in public schools in NYC and Philadelphia. She is a graduate of the University of Miami and holds master’s degrees from Queens College and Pace University. Emily lives in the Boston area with her husband, Ventura, and their three children.

Mekka Smith

Chief of Staff

mekkasmith@kippma.org

781-913-2674

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Mekka joined KIPP Massachusetts in 2016. She is originally from Atlanta, GA, and started teaching in 2007 through Teach For America (TFA), where she worked with first and second grade students in Miami, Florida for five years. Mekka has been actively involved in new teacher development through working at teacher summer institutes across the country in Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Tulsa, and Boston. In 2012, she joined the Teach For America-Massachusetts regional team and spent the next few years coaching teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as supporting TFA alumni to find high impact, school-based roles in local district and charter schools.

Mekka has consistently worked to further strategic approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in education. She has led diversity sessions for education professionals at KIPP and at TFA and created a diversity and equity professional development scope and sequence for beginning teachers. She currently serves as the chair of The Collective-Massachusetts, a programming board that supports TFA alumni of color in the Commonwealth. She is a graduate of Amherst College and has a Master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Outside of work, Mekka can be found catching up on podcasts and solving logic puzzles.