January 25, 2022

KIPP MA Emerging Leaders: Kristen Russell

What are Emerging Leaders?

In Emerging Leaders, we believe that leadership is a mindset, not a title. Leadership, like a muscle, can be strategically built and developed over time. Emerging Leaders is a year-long professional development cohort designed for KIPP MA teacher leaders seeking to strengthen their ability to lead strategically, authentically, and equitably. Emerging Leaders meet on a monthly basis to build a shared understanding of foundational leadership principles and contextualize these principles within participant’s roles at their respective schools. Through participation in Emerging Leaders, participants: 

  • Strengthen connections with other emerging leaders throughout the organization

  • Strengthen knowledge and skills in leadership domains that are key to being a successful teacher leader and/or school-level leader

  • Deepen self-awareness through a targeted coaching cycle, feedback analysis, and action planning.

-Farida Graham, Managing Director, Teacher & Leader Development


KIPP Academy Boston teacher, Kristen Russell, shares her story.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher.  The reasons why certainly evolved over the years, but the end goal remained the same.  As a student, I loved school.  I enjoyed learning new things and being encouraged to question the world around me.  I was lucky to have a number of teachers who made me feel safe to be me.  I felt free to express myself, whether that meant nerding out and bringing energy to the topic at hand or admitting that I was having a difficult time and struggling to focus on the content.  I did not have to show up in any one way to be celebrated; I was seen as a complete human being with all the complexities that go along with that.  Having this level of safety in these classes allowed me to grow not just as a student, but as a person.

As teachers, we get the incredible opportunity to be a part of the lives of hundreds and thousands of kids.  We are with them for just a small part of their life-long journeys, but it’s an integral part.  How can I be sure I maximize the learning that happens – not just for school, but for life?  It’s a funny thing to have a goal of making yourself obsolete, but that is what I strive to do in my classroom.  If I do my job well, then kids will see themselves as the leaders of our classroom.  They will be the ones driving the discussions and helping one another make connections that unlock more knowledge.  They will be the ones who feel free to express themselves, nerd out on content, and share their struggles.  They will be the ones celebrating one another for being the complex people they are.  If I do my job well, then all kids will share the sentiments of Franklin* and Jasmine* when they came back to KAB a few years after graduating and said, “I just know this is where I come from.” and “You don’t need an invite to come home.””

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