Recent Press

Notes from the Delta - January 2015 Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Dear Team & Family,

We hope you had a holiday full of rest, renewal, and joy! As we close the books on 2014 and look ahead to the new year, I always enjoy taking time to reflect on our journey and refocus on our priorities. I was thrilled to see that our regional priority to increase academic rigor pushed students to make the most of every minute in school, even amidst the many distractions of the holiday season. We saw teachers create a “joyous-struggle” in their classrooms and take our vision to heart.

We seek to create a joyous-struggle in all of our students by assuring teachers pitch lessons high, constantly challenge students, and never under-estimate children’s intellect. We believe students should leave classrooms exhausted and craving more. Boredom, ease, and simplicity are cardinal sins. We commit to a rigorous and aligned PreK-12 program built upon college-ready academic standards, effective instructional practices, and meaningful curriculum and assessments.

By continuing to push rigor while keeping a constant pulse on student retention, our second priority, we will keep striving in the new year to change educational outcomes for students in the Arkansas Delta. We will do whatever it takes to keep our KIPPsters, as we are armed with the knowledge that KIPP students are four times more likely to graduate from college than their peers in neighboring school districts. In order to continue serving the students who need us, we must have passionate and innovative people in our schools.

With several new staff members joining us this month, and strong plans being made for leadership in the coming years, we are seeing the results of our focus on recruiting top talent. The importance of talent, our third priority, cannot be overstated. We have a talented team at KIPP Delta, but our growth in the coming years will require exceptional retention and strategic recruitment.

We are proud of our journey in 2014 and, with a constant focus on our regional priorities, we are looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that 2015 will surely bring.

Scott Shirey
Executive Director


Join Us at Beyond Z!

Join us Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 6:30pm as we celebrate students, families, and staff who strive to go “beyond Z” in their pursuit of excellence. This wonderful evening at the Blytheville Holiday Inn will feature a delicious dinner, musical performances by KIPP students, and a cash bar. Each guest will also take home a piece of student artwork as a thank you for your support of KIPP Delta Public Schools. Tickets can be purchased for $45 online at or at the KIPP Blytheville campus at 1200 Byrum Road.

Sponsorships, ranging from $500 to $3,000, are still available. For more information, please contact Sarah Dewey via e-mail at or by phone at 870-714-1503. All proceeds from Beyond Z benefit KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School and KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School.

In conjunction with Beyond Z, there will also be a special naming ceremony at the KIPP Blytheville campus on the morning of February 7, 2015. Please join us at 11:00am at 1200 Byrum Road to honor the late Senator Steve Bryles and his family.


Ice Skating & History Lessons for Blytheville KIPPsters

Each month, KIPP students have the opportunity to earn a field lesson with their grade level. In December, KIPPsters traveled near and far for a variety of experiences. Our first graders went caroling at a local nursing home, our third graders learned how to make pottery, and our fourth graders learned how to write code on their Chromebooks! Two field lessons that really resonated with students were trips to Central High School in Little Rock and the Memphis Zoo.

Students in the Class of 2019 at KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School visited Central High School and dove into a history lesson on the Little Rock Nine. Zacchaeus Knowles, an 8 th grader, especially enjoyed learning about this pivotal time in his home state. “It was upsetting to learn what these nine hearoes had gone through,” said Zacchaeus, “but the things they did affect all of us today.” Zacchaeus was inspired by their strength and their self-control to never fight back.

While 8 th grade students were exploring history, 6 th grade students were stepping outside their comfort zone and trying an activity that was new to many of them – ice skating! The Class of 2021 visited the Memphis Zoo for a day full of skating and animal encounters. Riya Mittal, a 6 th grade student, was fascinated by the origin of ice skating, which students read about on the bus ride. “I learned that Finns started ice skating,” said Riya, “and the first ice skates were animal bone with animal fat on them to help them glide.” Students enjoyed the challenge and built their teamwork skills by sharing tips and supporting one another. Cultural experiences like this one are incredibly valuable for KIPPsters, and students always show gratitude for the teachers that plan these activities. Riya reflects on the opportunity: “There isn’t a zoo or ice skating rink in Blytheville, so I was very grateful to be able to go on this field lesson.”


KIPPsters Shine at Winter Concerts

KIPP Delta Choral Music in Helena celebrated its final concert under the baton of director Nick Malinowski on Thursday, December 11, at the Lily Peter Auditorium in Helena. The concert featured three choirs from grades 5-12, and included over 115 singers. Over the course of an hour, the audience was delighted with Christmas classics, as well as a few new numbers that will surely be classics someday. The evening ended with a reception honoring Mr. Malinowski and his students for their incredible accomplishments over the last five years. 

KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School and KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School hosted their Winter Concert on Monday, December 15, at the Ritz Civic Center in Blytheville. Directed by music teacher Jon Tomasello, nearly 200 students performed! There were many wonderful including percussion classes, choir classes, and the select after school choir. Some highlights included Robert Kulinski’s piano solo and Joshua Brown’s incredible rendition of “This Christmas.” The Young Generation Step Team also performed several new dances. To close out the night, the combined 7th, 8th, and 9th grade choirs sang a medley of holiday songs together.


More College Acceptances Roll In!

Over 80% of students in the Class of 2015 received at least one college acceptance before winter break! Students have also been receiving many scholarship offers throughout the winter, and will continue to do so over the next few months. Arnez Orr is leading the way with $32,000 in scholarship money already!

View the full list of College Acceptances here.


Raise Money for KIPP Delta by Shopping on Amazon

Even though the holiday shopping season has passed, you can still support KIPP Delta by shopping on Amazon. All you have to do is use this link. There is no additional cost to shopping on Amazon and, anytime you shop from this link, 5% of your total will automatically be donated to KIPP Delta! Save the link to your favorites and then forward this message on to friends and family to share the good news! Thank you for supporting KIPP Delta, at no extra cost to you!


Upcoming Events

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (No School) - January 19, 2015
  • Beyond Z Event in Blytheville - February 7, 2015
  • Presidents' Day Holiday (No School) - February 16, 2015
  • Little Bites. Big Impact. Event in Helena - April 9, 2015

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