Join us in welcoming Elsy Estevez-Hicks as the new principal of KIPP Academy Lynn Elementary (KALE)! Elsy will be the successor to KALE founding principal, Eveleen Hsu. Eveleen started at KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School in 2009 where she was an ELA teacher for both 5th and 6th grade. She became a principal in 2015 when she founded KALE with the their first Kindergarten class, the class of 2028. During her time as principal, Eveleen founded grades Kindergarten through fourth grade. Under Eveleen’s leadership KALE students demonstrated remarkable growth and academic achievement. Eveleen will be transitioning to a role on the KIPP Massachusetts regional team as the Managing Director of Equity and Engagement.
Eveleen expressed her excitement around the transition, “I am thrilled to announce Elsy Estevez-Hicks as the successor principal of KIPP Academy Lynn Elementary! Ms. Estevez-Hicks has been part of KALE since its founding, and she has taken on multiple roles successfully: founding kindergarten teacher, founding second grade teacher, grade level chair, and, most recently, assistant principal. Before coming to KALE, she had taught first and third grade in both the traditional public school setting and another KIPP school in New Jersey. For every role that Ms. Estevez-Hicks takes on, she builds strong relationships with all families, students, staff, and the community. She leads with equity, excellence, and empathy, and I know she will help sustain KALE in being a school that families and children deserve.”
Elsy is the first bilingual school leader at KIPP MA. Like many of our students and families in Lynn, she is also an immigrant and native Spanish speaker. Elsy explains the importance of representation in a school leader, “it means a lot to our families to have someone they can communicate with in their native language. It’s also powerful for kids to see that their school leader looks like them and comes from a similar background.”
Elsy has been with KIPP since 2011, and has been with KALE since 2015 where she was a founding Kindergarten teacher under Eveleen’s leadership. Elsy taught Kindergarten at KALE for two years and second grade for one year, where she was also a founding second grade teacher. For the past two years Elsy has been an assistant principal at KALE, supporting grades K-4 and coaching lead teachers.
Elsy is ready for this new chapter in her leadership journey, but she is especially happy it will be at KALE. Elsy explains, “KALE is very special to me because it’s always felt like family. Students can be their authentic selves and their identities are celebrated. Our staff are committed to working in partnership with our families because they are our students’ first teachers. We are student focused and are constantly seeking feedback because we see ourselves as adult learners and look forward to growing alongside our students. Getting to see members of my KALE Family every day is something I look forward to.”
We’re so excited to announce that KALC students Melvin Ayala, Tatiana Iraheta, and Serena Porte were chosen as the third place award recipients for the 9-12 grade STEM week challenge: Slow the Spread!
Their app, which aims to provide access to resources including real-time updates from the CDC and an interactive symptoms tracker, called “TRACK-vid,” impressed the STEM experts who reviewed submissions from students across the Commonwealth. You can review their full presentation here: TRACK-vid STEM Week Presentation.
An environmental scientist who reviewed their project said, “It’s impressive to think that you’re looking for solutions to address real-world challenges at the same time our top scientists and professionals are. Your team had a thoughtful approach by providing multiple app functionalities (tracking symptoms and connecting users to free testing) while also considering users of different backgrounds through your offering of multiple languages.”
In recognition of their hard work and standout ideas, students have earned an exciting industry experience from STEM Week Challenge partners: A design session with experts from IBM!
Teachers across the Massachusetts, and across the country, are adjusting to teaching students virtually and many experienced teachers feel as though they are in the first year of teaching all over again. The Boston Globe Great Divide team followed three teachers to uncover how teachers are adapting to teaching during the pandemic. Adrianna Barnes, who is a fourth grade teacher at KIPP Academy Boston Elementary school, discusses how she has had to transform her approach to teaching in a virtual world. When she was teaching in her classroom, in person, Barnes encouraged students to learn from each other. She was used to guiding the discussion, but allowing students to answer each others questions and solve problems together. That has been the biggest challenge Barnes told the Globe team: “They’re still figuring out how to interact with each other online. If we were in person, I’d say, ‘I’m not a part of this conversation — ask your teammates what they think.’ ” But she is finding that no longer works as many students are reluctant to speak up and take intellectual risks in a virtual setting.
Barnes had to pivot to a more teacher led approach to online learning with individualized sessions with students who might be struggling, which she has found had helped to alleviate some of the stage freight that her kids feel on Zoom. She has also relied on more naturally exciting topics, such as current events, to help with student engagement. Barnes is constantly figuring out what works and what doesn’t in a virtual setting, and, like many teachers, Barnes misses being in person. “I miss being with the kids in person so much,” Barnes said. “I miss their weird jokes — I think what I miss most is them interacting with each other.”
KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate was featured in the Lynn Item this week to showcase Mass STEM Week. 90 KALC students are joining the over 35,000 students who are taking part in the Mass STEM Week Challenge. The challenge? Slow the Spread. Students begin by thinking through issues surrounding COVID-19, imagine an app that can solve the issue, design paper plans, and experiment with app-design software. Students must submit their final project by Friday 10/23/2020.
The theme for this years challenge is “See Yourself in STEM,” which encourages groups that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields to consider a career in STEM.
KALC Science Department Chair Allen Wang explains the importance of Mass STEM Week Challenge, “You can’t be what you can’t see. Representation is so crucial now because COVID has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. This challenge allows them to be the innovators in their community instead of someone from the outside.” Mr. Wang is pictured below running his virtual classroom with students who are participating in the challenge.