Recent Press

Notes from the Delta - April 2014 Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Dear Friends, Family, & Supporters,

It has been another eventful month of summer program acceptances for our KIPPsters. Marcus Foster and Bailey Dalencourt-Richards of the Class of 2016, as well as John Ball (pictured above) of the Class of 2018, were recently accepted to the National Outdoor Leadership School and were awarded a $5,000 scholarship to cover tuition and rental costs of equipment through the Gateway Partnership. Marcus will be traveling to the Olympic National Park off of the coast of Washington in July where he will spend 30 days hiking with other teens. Bailey, meanwhile, will head to Teton Valley this summer and spend three weeks in the wilderness. John will be spending 21 days backpacking and canoeing in the Adirondack Mountains. Please do join me in congratulating these students in demonstrating exemplary curiosity and grit in choosing to participate in this program! Meanwhile, Quentin Murry, Derrick King, and Jasmine Hicks of the Class of 2015 were also recently accepted to KIPP Partner Summer Programs. All three were accepted in a competitive application process with the help of glowing recommendations from their teachers. Quentin will be our first student in the Davidson Program in North Carolina, Jasmine will head to Franklin & Marshall in Pennsylvania, and Derrick was accepted into the Georgetown University Program in Washington D.C. Again, congratulations are in order here to the KTC Team and our high school staff as we celebrate our KIPPsters’ acceptances into life-changing programs that will help them feel more comfortable traveling far from home and visiting new colleges.

I am excited to share that we continue to inch ever closer to meeting the fundraising goal for our elementary wing and playground expansion project. Earlier this month, we were awarded a $200,000 gift from the Calder Foundation, leaving only $14,000 left to raise and bringing us close enough to bid the project out.  We are proud to announce that a local contractor, Delk and Associates, has been awarded the contract and we anticipate breaking ground soon.  Please consider supporting this project by making a donation or helping us to spread the word!  We would love to celebrate the project’s construction commencement while simultaneously reaching our goal!

Lastly, we received some outstanding news in the area of leadership talent late last month at the KIPP national selection event in Houston. Marcus Nelson, a nine-year veteran of our schools, former School Director of KIPP Delta College Preparatory School, and current Instructional Coach, was awarded the Fisher Fellowship. Marcus has accepted the offer and will begin work next year on opening a school in a third Arkansas community by 2015-2016. As we strive to be the school of choice for more and more families in selected Arkansas communities of need, Marcus’s selection and commitment will be instrumental in our ability to serve more students. Meanwhile, we also had an external candidate awarded the Miles Family Fellowship at the selection event. Sam Wallis, a teacher in nearby Indianola, Mississippi, will join us next year at our Blytheville campus, attend trainings provided by the KIPP Foundation, and begin a path to leadership for a KIPP school in the Arkansas Delta in the near future. Please do take a moment to help me congratulate Marcus and Sam on their achievement!

Keep Climbing, 

Scott Shirey
Executive Director


Ivy League-bound Scholars

While the Class of 2014 is finishing their college applications and counting their acceptances, their younger teammates are working hard to earn a spot at a variety of pre-college summer programs. Three students at KIPP Delta Collegiate High School (DCH) recently learned that they’ll be the first-ever KIPP Delta students to attend an Ivy League summer program.  Tykeena Watson and Kevin Martin, both sophomores, were accepted into Brown University's Leadership Institute. This prestigious two-week institute challenges high school students to address the complex issues of the world by questioning assumptions, expanding knowledge, and changing behavior. Students take courses and create action plans, while learning invaluable lessons about what it means to be an effective and socially responsible leader.

Jasmin Fleuranvil, a sophomore at KIPP DCH, was also accepted into a Brown University program and received a selective scholarship. Jasmin will be attending Brown’s Summer Pre-College on a Dean's Scholarship. During this three-week program, Jasmin will have the opportunity to take Ivy League college classes, without the pressures of credit or grades. With nearly 200 courses to choose from, Jasmin will be able to determine if an Ivy League campus is the right fit for her. KIPP Delta is thrilled to be sending three of our students to Brown University, one of the most prestigious KIPP college partners.

Mack Williams, Tyrone Gamble, Summer Farris, and Arnez Orr have all been accepted to the Vanderbilt University Aspirnaut program. We are very pleased to have four students accepted to this program, as we have learned over the years that our students who have participated were able to use their published scientific findings to set themselves apart in the college admissions process. KIPPsters who attend the Aspirnaut program take rigorous science courses, conduct impressive experiments, work with amazing postdoctoral researchers in a one-on-one setting, and have the opportunity to experience the life of a college student while still in high school. The Aspirnaut program also exposes students to Vanderbilt University, a prestigious KIPP college partner, where five KIPP Delta alumni are currently enrolled.

Three KIPP Delta students have recently been accepted to National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) summer programs. NOLS, with a mission of teaching wilderness skills and leadership that serves people and the environment, offers courses that range from 10 days to an entire academic year. John Ball, KIPP BCPS Class of 2018, has been accepted to the Adirondack Backpacking and Canoeing Adventure. John will spend 21 days in June and July exploring the mountains of New York. Marcus Foster, KIPP DCH Class of 2016, earned acceptance into the Pacific Northwest Backpacking course. Marcus will spend 30 days hiking in Olympic National Park off the coast of Washington. Lastly, Bailey Dalencourt-Richards, KIPP DCH Class of 2016, has been accepted to the Idaho Backpacking Adventure. She will spend two weeks in the Teton Valley wilderness of Idaho and Wyoming. Thanks to the Gateway Partnership, all three students will be attending NOLS on a full scholarship. We’re very proud of the curiosity and zest that John, Marcus, and Bailey have shown throughout the application process, and we know these adventures will test their incredible grit.



Record Breaking Pi Day!

KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School is still young, only four years old, but it has already established rich traditions. One such tradition is the celebration of Geek Week and the culminating excitement around Pi Day. This spirit week and mathematician’s holiday provide KIPP Blytheville staff with the opportunity to impart two important lessons to students. The first is that everyone is a geek about something. Whether it’s geometry, cooking, basketball, gardening, singing, reading, or comic books, everyone is passionate about something, and those passions should be celebrated. As actor Simon Pegg once said, being a geek “means never having to play it cool about how much you like something.” Students at KIPP Blytheville are encouraged to share their interests and embrace their passions.

The second lesson that goes hand-in-hand with Geek Week and Pi Day is that simply learning for the sake of learning can be fun, even if there is no particular benefit to gaining certain knowledge. In preparation for Pi Day, many students work tirelessly to memorize as many digits of pi as possible. This is certainly not an essential skill, but it promotes learning for the sake of learning. Several students in the Class of 2018 can recite over 50 digits, without studying, by using the beat of song they learned three years ago in fifth grade. Other students put in a great deal of studying in preparation for the Pi Off, where they must stand up and recite what they’ve memorized in front of their 270 peers. This year, Ly Hoang from the Class of 2017 recited 196 digits and broke the school record. Aditi Panda from the Class of 2018, who has since moved to Houston, held the record since 2012 with 184 digits recited.

Students across all five grade levels in Blytheville, fourth through eighth, get into the spirit during Geek Week and Pi Day. Led by an enthusiastic founding class, students spend a great deal of time preparing their outfits each day and taking pictures during lunch. On Pi Day, the excitement is palpable as students sit in absolute silence to watch their classmates during the Pi Off. Students also enjoy pies made by the KIPP Blytheville PTO and get the chance to “pie” a few teachers in the face. These rich traditions are an essential part of school culture, as they make our students proud to be KIPPsters. We’re looking forward to many more traditions as the Class of 2018 opens KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School this summer.


Alumni Excelling Coast to Coast!

One of the most important aspects of our KIPP Through College (KTC) program, and also one that sets KTC apart from other college advising offices, is that our staff support KIPP alumni all the way to their college graduation day and beyond. Even KIPPsters who chose to attend private boarding schools outside of Arkansas are tracked and supported just as much as those we see every day. It’s always exciting to hear good news from our alumni, and this past month brought lots of good news our way!

Joseph Whitfield, KIPP Delta Class of 2011, is currently a junior at Colby College in Maine. Joseph has been the president of his class at Colby for the past three years, and he was recently elected to be class president again for senior year. According to college staff, this is an unprecedented victory, as Colby College has never had a student remain class president for all four years. This is a testament to Joseph’s character, as well as the respect and appreciation that his peers have for him. While excelling at Colby, Joseph has continued to be a frequent mentor to KIPP Delta students by representing the college experience at Homecoming panels for high school students, supervising our weeklong trip to the University of Arkansas, and by sharing his experiences at a small, private college in New England. Congratulations, Joseph!

KIPP Delta also recently received exceptional news from the West Coast, where Alex Lofton is attending the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad. Alex, from the KIPP Delta Class of 2017, is a freshman cadet at the Academy. This winter, Alex was awarded the Dean Raymond Ede Superior Academic Achievement Award. This award, named for the late Dean Raymond Ede who served the Academy for over forty years, is granted each semester to cadets with high achievement in the school's college preparatory program. Each of the recipients has maintained a minimum grade point average of 3.8. We are very proud of Alex’s hard work in his first semester away from home!


Leave It Better Than You Found It

“Leave it better than you found it” is a mantra that you can hear echoing through the hallways of every KIPP Delta school. Both students and teachers are always encouraged to heed this call in their physical spaces everyday: turning computers off and returning headphones to their proper place in the labs, picking up all trash from the cafeteria after lunch, and keeping bathrooms tidy throughout the day. But, we also push students to think about this credo in a bigger sense. We hope all students will leave their school better than when they found it; that they will contribute in a lasting way to the culture of their school.

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the day, we all forget to “leave it better than we found it.” To provide a nice reminder and cultivate a sense of ownership among our youngest students, a new program has been launched at KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy. Maci Edwards, the Business Operations Manager at ELA, has selected one exceptional student from each fourth grade class to be a KIPP Steward. By definition, “stewardship” means the planning and management of resources, so KIPP Stewards have been tasked with ensuring the physical spaces at ELA are being treated well. Ms. Edwards has taught her KIPP Stewards about the meaning of stewardship and they have brainstormed examples of good stewardship.

During their first walk through on campus last week, Ms. Edwards and Mr. Julius Roby (a 4th grade KIPP Steward) visited Mr. Lampert’s classroom. Mr. Roby was pleased with the organization in his teacher’s classroom, noting the nifty baskets that stored markers at each table. There was room for improvement at the computer desks though, as Mr. Roby noticed that some keyboards were not stored properly. He was able to tidy up in less than five seconds, and will encourage his teammates to do the same each time they finish using a computer. Ms. Edwards hopes that the KIPP Steward program will continue to inspire both students and staff to leave it better than they found it.







KIPPster Traveling to New Zealand!

KIPP Delta is excited to announce that Galeesa Murph, Class of 2012, will be our first alum to study abroad! Galeesa is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University and has recently applied to study abroad in Wellington, New Zealand this fall. Majoring in International Leadership and Development, Galeesa felt it was critical that she experience different cultures and spend time living abroad, outside of her comfort zone. She is especially interested in learning about the parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy form of government, as well as the rich Maori culture in New Zealand. Vanderbilt University is covering the majority of Galeesa’s expenses, however they cannot purchase her flight or provide funding for her food while abroad. YOU can help Galeesa fulfill a dream by donating to her trip here . The whole KIPP Delta team and family is very appreciative of any support you can give. Galeesa, who will be the first person in her family to graduate from a four-year college, is thrilled to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


Announcements and Highlights

Upcoming Events

  • Benchmark Exams - April 7-11, 2014
  • April Field Lessons - April 26, 2014
  • May Field Lessons - May 17, 2014
  • KIPP Delta Graduation - May 22, 2014

View the e-newsletter online

If you are a journalist or a member of the media and have an inquiry, please contact:

Carissa Godwin
Chief of External Affairs