As the 5th week of my fellowship came to a close, I reflected on all of the things that ended during those few short weeks: the sixth season of Game of Thrones, the NBA Finals (go Cavs!), and the creation of some of my favorite spreadsheets at KIPP. I know you’ve all heard this before, but time really does fly when you’re having fun.
I’ve really gotten the chance to explore Columbus in depth. The neat thing about having a job is that, unlike being in school, when you come home… you’re actually finished for the day. It’s given me many opportunities to seek out fun activities in the city. To name a few: I’ve gone to Red White & Boom (Columbus’s 4th of July celebration), wandered through the Franklin Park Conservatory, and enjoyed a beautiful walk through the Scioto Mile at the Columbus Arts Festival.
And speaking of exploring, I spent some of my time at work this week exploring an aspect of KIPP that I hadn’t gotten to interact with yet: their “KIPP Through College” (KTC) program. KTC encompasses what KIPP is all about. The program is designed to help all KIPPsters make it to and through college. It was previously called their “KIPP To College” program, before the national organization realized that their KIPP alumni needed guidance during their time at college to support them on every step of their journey.
At the moment, KIPP Columbus does not have a high school (see the construction photos from my last post). Because of this, they have 3 classes worth of alumni across 60 different high schools and 4 different states–a rather wide variety of students to keep track of. KTC is the overarching presence that keeps students focused on their futures. It’s important to note that KTC is also aware of the different futures their KIPPsters can have. This year, they had kids getting their GEDs for the first time, kids who otherwise wouldn’t have graduated high school. I spoke with Jessica Reback, KIPP Columbus’s Manager of College Access, on how KTC works. As she put it, “we’re here to help our students, whatever that looks like for them.” To name a few of their responsibilities, KTC makes sure their students carefully select a college that best suits their career goals (particularly not a college with high drop-out rates!), that they fully complete their college applications, and especially that they fill out their financial aid forms.
Something that struck me about our conversation was what she said about her first day working at KIPP Columbus. She told me that she went home and couldn’t stop thinking about how different things at KIPP Columbus were when compared to her previous education jobs. I asked her what she meant by that, and she replied, “people keep their promises to kids here.” And exploring the work of KTC really proves that statement to be so very, amazingly true.