KIPP MA Response to the Passing of Representative John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian

To the KIPP Massachusetts Community, 

Along with you, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Representative John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian. While we mourn their losses, we also celebrate their lives and legacy. By the age of 21, John Lewis was already a significant leader of the Civil Rights Movement, participating in the first Freedom Rides and working alongside Martin Luther King Jr. on the March on Washington. He served in the House of Representatives since 1986, continuing to fight for Civil Rights in America. Reverend C.T. Vivian was also an active leader and trusted advisor for Martin Luther King Jr., leading student sit-ins and Freedom Rides. These two men continued to speak publicly on the continued fight for freedom and equality until their passing on July 17, 2020.

I spent the weekend reflecting on the impact John Lewis has made to our community. John Lewis is the embodiment of the struggle for racial justice and equity as a lifelong journey that has moments and seasons but never really ends. We pass the baton to the next generation and continue the struggle. I’m honored to run this lifelong race as both a Black woman and the leader of KIPP Massachusetts.  I will work to ensure our students develop critical consciousness.  I will make space for them to embrace “good trouble” as they pursue their aspirations by walking their own paths.

As Rep. John Lewis said in his own words, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” He has passed the torch to each of us. As KIPP Massachusetts continues the fight to create a world where our students will thrive, we must aspire to continue the work led by Rep. John Lewis’ accomplishments. We will honor him and allow his legacy to live on as the blueprint for the work that we do each day in our schools. Thank you, Representative John Lewis. Thank you, Reverend C.T. Vivian. May you both rest in power.

Warmly,

“Nikki” Barnes

Executive Director | KIPP Massachusetts 

KIPP Massachusetts names Rhonda “Nikki” Barnes next Executive Director

The Board of Trustees of KIPP Massachusetts is excited to share the news that Rhonda “Nikki” Barnes was appointed the new Executive Director of KIPP Massachusetts (KIPP MA). Nikki has over 20 years of classroom experience in elementary, middle, and high school, as well as 10 years of experience working in education non-profit organizations. She came to KIPP MA in 2013 as a 6th grade teacher at KIPP Academy Boston, became the Dean of Students in 2014, and the Principal in 2015. Under her leadership, KIPP Academy Boston experienced some of the highest student growth in the state of Massachusetts, including some of the best performance in reading growth on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment in the KIPP national network. Most recently, Nikki has served as the Chief Schools Officer of KIPP MA, supporting the five school principals. Nikki will be the first Black woman to serve as Executive Director of KIPP Massachusetts. 

Nikki was recommended by outgoing Executive Director Caleb Dolan, who led KIPP MA with excellence for the past 10 years. Reflecting on Nikki’s appointment, Caleb said, “I made the decision to step down because I had the honor working alongside someone who I knew could lead our schools further towards the mission and vision we crafted with our families and alumni. Nikki is an educator with the experience, energy, and imagination to lead the evolution of our schools so that all students realize their aspirations for a choice-filled lives and a more just world.”

Nikki shared her vision for the future of KIPP Massachusetts with the Board, families, and staff throughout a comprehensive hiring process. People across the KIPP community agreed that she will lead with excellence and equity at the forefront for all students, teachers, and families. “I will work to make sure every child is seen, known, loved, and challenged,” Nikki said. “KIPP Massachusetts is a strong region of schools whose alumni are persisting and advancing towards amazing adult lives, where children are growing academically and socially, and where we are taking big steps towards sustainability with our money and our people. This is fertile soil for us to grow even stronger.”

Board of Trustees Chair Amanda Seider says, “Nikki has proven herself time and time again as an exceptional educator, manager, advocate, strategist, and leader. Her focus on equity, critical consciousness, and anti-racist approaches to education will take our work to the next level, and push us all to be the very best we can be in service of students and families.” We are excited for this new chapter at KIPP Massachusetts, and are thankful for Caleb Dolan’s leadership and service over the past 10 years.

KALC Students Organizing to End White Supremacy

The students of KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate are committed to organizing and mobilizing communities against police brutality, the child of systemic racism in America. We will begin with, but not limit this effort to, our own communities. 

Join us in this effort by donating your time, your ideas, and/or your financial means. In the face of a pandemic, we acknowledge and hope to minimize the additional risk of COVID-19 as we collectively show up in our community. We are assembling a student advisory board who will oversee and ultimately decide how the funds donated to this cause are spent. Some examples may include purchasing masks and hand sanitizer for demonstrators, purchasing and distributing symbols of solidarity (e.g. Black Lives Matter lawn signs), feeding and hydrating our co-conspirators, and redistributing funds to similar causes across nearby communities.

Donate to the GoFundMe here.

KIPP MA Celebrates the KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate Class of 2020

Lynn, MA- May 26, 2020- Despite the Coronavirus Pandemic, the KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate (KALC) Class of 2020 will still be celebrated by the entire KIPP community, both virtually and in-person with social-distancing measures. 

The Class of 2020 consists of 109 graduating students, with a 100% graduation rate of students who began the school year at KALC. Many colleges have changed their deposit date from May 1 to June 1 because of Coronavirus, but the KALC College Counseling team estimates that 83% of the Class of 2020 will enroll in four-year schools, 12% will enroll in two-year schools, and 5% are pursuing other post-secondary options.

Caleb Dolan, KIPP MA Executive Director says, “The class of 2020, like all classes, is a group of extraordinary young people full of purpose and passion. Unlike all our other classes, this class has had to progress towards their future amidst a pandemic. This pandemic illuminates how deeply these young people are committed to each other, their community, and of building a better tomorrow. I am personally grateful to these young people, their families, and their teachers; their navigation of an almost impossible time provides hope for all of us.”

The celebration will start with the Senior Award presentation on Tuesday, May 26, which will be pre-recorded and aired live on Zoom. All senior families will be able to celebrate the awards with three meals from Estefani’s Restaurant in Lynn, which is owned by a KIPP alumna. KIPP MA teachers will be delivering the food to seniors in a socially-distanced manner. 

On Wednesday, May 27, members of the Class of 2020 will come to KALC with their families in shifts to pick up their diplomas. They will drive under a balloon arch, get their diploma, and be able to take a photo. 

On Thursday, May 28, students will come together for a Zoom graduation ceremony, with speeches from Valedictorian Herman Keysha, Salutatorian Chanpichany Ros, and Class Speaker Jonathan Caraballo. 

Senior Brian Leon says, “Although we are not having a traditional graduation ceremony, it is clear that KIPP is doing everything that they can to make sure that we’re supported and that we feel like a team and family during this time.”