follow me

Posts Tagged ‘kipp charlotte’


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I flew back to Charlotte for two events.  One I affectionately call “Katie is Great,” because my friend Katie was named one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”  The other is a benefit breakfast for KIPP Charlotte, where I’m a board member and volunteer.

Both events required attendance and support.  And fortunately for both Katie and me, we’re surrounded by an amazing group of friends.

There’s a core group of 10 of us, we jokingly call “The Commune.”  Hubby and I inherited this group of friends (it’s a long, convoluted story so just go with me on this one) three and a half years ago.  Since then, we’ve done dinners, NASCAR, holidays, Panther tailgates, Checkers, and Bobcats games.  We’ve organized charitable events, projects, and gatherings.  We’ve borrowed each others’ cars, laundry facilities, clothes, pools, and spouses (for events our spouse couldn’t attend!).  We’ve baby sat, dog sat, cat sat, and house sat.  We’ve celebrated birthdays and promotions and supported job losses and changes.  We‘ve traveled in a pack and have a standing agreement that when family or friends come to town it’s all ‘hands on deck.’  There are several friends who choose not to be part of the “Commune,” but still we count them as part of the group (I think they fear our insane email list!!!)

It’s amazing when we’re all together because we have so much fun, admiration, and love for each other.  If you’re ever fortunate enough to gather such a great group, who share common interests and affection, hold on tight, it’s a gift.

KIPP Charlotte

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

You all know I’m a huge fan of KIPP Charlotte, right?  It’s a public charter school that’s part of a network of 82 KIPP schools across the country.  The goal: to close the achievement gap that exists in our underserved communities, to send these students to college, and for the students to then change the world.  It’s no small feat but it’s the attitude, that this is totally do-able, that is revolutionary!

I’m a volunteer and board member of KIPP Charlotte.  And today we had our first big community fundraiser.  We only get 75% of our funding from state and federal aid; the rest we have to raise.  The money goes towards a higher salary for our teachers, because they teach from 7:30 until 5 and every other Saturday.  It funds field trips for our students to visit college campuses.  It pays for books and supplies.  And it helps to cover our infrastructure costs.

Today’s breakfast was a big deal.  We have a $600,000 fundraising goal needed just to finish the year.

This morning we heard from Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP, a KIPP Gaston graduate who’s in college now, and Kahari, a current student of KIPP Charlotte.  They were all so inspiring.  But the big surprise came from Larry Polsky, from the Levine Foundation, when he announced the gift of $300,000.  That money is critical for our small school that has enormous dreams for our students.

I met Larry when he came to KIPP Charlotte for a recent site visit.  I’m such a fan of the school I must have talked his ear off that day.  I told him about many of the school’s attributes, including that at KIPP Charlotte, it’s cool to be smart.  To my surprise, during his speech about why the Levine Foundation was giving such a generous donation, he made, “it’s cool to be smart” his theme.

Friends, visit a KIPP school!  It’ll be a wise move on your part because, like me, the experience will forever change what you know to be possible in education.

Black History Month

Monday, March 1st, 2010

This Monday could mean several different things for you.  The start of a new month and the anticipated arrival of spring.  The emotional scar left behind after a last second goal to tie the score in Olympic Hockey, only to have Canada eke out a win in overtime over USA last night.

For me this year, March 1st is the end of Black History Month.  In years past I’ve not done much to celebrate the 84 year tradition.  This year I was invited to KIPP Charlotte’s first ever Black History Month program.    

To be perfectly honest, I went because my lunch buddy was part of the program, it was her birthday and she invited me to come.  I was not overly enthusiastic about it mainly because school programs are truly only appreciated by the students, teachers and families.  I don’t have kids.  I was prepared for an hour of prepubescent awkward performances.  I was wrong.  I was moved.

For an hour a group of 5th, 6th, and 7th graders sang and acted out scenes of slavery, segregation and hope.  With the help of their teachers, they tackled mature topics and by the looks on their faces and the faces of their peers – they got it.  However different their lives are today, they understood the significance of celebrating the history of their ancestors.  The solos performed by the boys and girls were eclipsed only by two poems penned by the students themselves.  Here’s a small portion of Kahari’s poem “Status Quo.”    

Throughout the program I sat mesmerized by the maturity of the students, the power of their words and the sheer will of their determination.  Several times throughout the program I could feel warm tears start to pool in my eyes threatening to spill over (which is only a big deal because I’m not a crier).  My tears underscored the amazing education going on at KIPP Charlotte and leave me in awe of the caliber of the students it’s creating.

Brevin Knight

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Brevin Knight played in the NBA for 12 years.  Three of which were here for the Charlotte Bobcats.  He’s a Stanford University grad who readily attests to a solid foundation he says his mother helped him build.  One where he was not merely a force on the courts but a formidable student in school.

(Thank you to Ms. Leslie at KIPP Charlotte for sharing the video.)

I recently asked him to speak at KIPP Charlotte, a public charter middle school, where I’m a volunteer and board member.  The student body is 99% minority.  70% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch.  It’s a school where two-thirds of the students are boys, and if asked, often say they aspire to be pro ball players.  The majority of the students live in the neighborhood destined to attend Garinger High School, a place where the graduation rate is a mere 40%.  But at KIPP Charlotte the goal is not only to graduate high school but to be college bound.  And nationally, 85% of KIPP alumni go onto college

I wanted KIPP Charlotte students to hear Brevin’s story; one of perseverance, dreams and smarts.  Where a Stanford scout happened to catch him playing basketball for Seton Hall Prep only because the game he was hoping to see was cancelled.  Brevin’s high school coach was able to not only praise Brevin’s athletic agility but academic strengths.  The rest, as they say, is history.