Recent Press

Notes from the Delta - March 2015 Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Dear Team & Family,

Last month, we had the opportunity to honor a longtime supporter of KIPP Delta Public Schools, the late Senator Steve Bryles.  In July 2002, the late Senator Steve Bryles made the trip from Blytheville to Helena to attend the ribbon cutting at KIPP Delta’s first school, KIPP Delta College Preparatory School.  From that point forward, Senator Bryles’ persistent question was always “How does Blytheville get a KIPP school?”  He fought tirelessly to make this happen for students in his community.  Senator Bryles served in Little Rock as a champion for students throughout the Delta and state, while also assembling a passionate and driven group of KIPP supporters back home in Mississippi County.  He spoke about KIPP everywhere he went and became famous for bringing people from around the state to tour our campus in Helena. Eight years after his first visit to KIPP Delta, Senator Bryles was able to see the doors open at KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School in 2010. 

Today, our schools in these two communities have grown to serve nearly 1,400 students.  Senator Bryles’ impact on KIPP Delta cannot be overstated, and we were thrilled to honor him in February by naming the campus on Byrum Road the Senator Steve Bryles Memorial Campus.  We were also honored to present his family with the first ever Beyond Z Community Award at our recent event in Blytheville.  This summer, we will be opening a middle school in Forrest City and we look forward to continuing Senator Bryles’ legacy as we seek to ensure every child in Eastern Arkansas receives a high-quality, college-preparatory education.

Senator Steve Bryles’ commitment to his beliefs led to increased opportunities for thousands of students, but his vision could not have become a reality without the support of many of you – our donors, our families, and our staff. As Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”


Scott Shirey
Executive Director


A Season of Bests for Girls' Basketball!

Coach Tracy Duncan, in just her second year at KIPP but her 14 th year coaching, is building the foundation of a strong basketball program at KIPP Delta. As Coach Duncan says, this was a “season of bests” for all three girls’ teams. The senior high team won the most conference games and the most regular season games in school history. Coach Duncan credits this growth to an increased buy-in to the system she has put in place and a desire among the players to change the perception of athletics at KIPP Delta. “They would like for the girls program to eventually become a dominating force like the boys have established year after year,” says Coach Duncan.

In addition to the improved team play, several athletes reached personal bests. Donnesia Clark set the Arkansas state record for rebounds in a game when she pulled down 30 in one contest. In two other games Donnesia placed in the top five, grabbing 18 rebounds in each game. Maya Gill also added her name to the record books when she pulled down 20 rebounds in a game, placing her in the top five leaders of all time. Tatiyan Washington set the Arkansas state record for steals when she recorded 20 in a single game.  In another game Tatiyan stole the ball eleven times, the second highest total all time in Arkansas.   

KIPP Delta’s junior high team also had a year of growth and unprecedented success. The team won their first game ever and went on to record three conference wins and seven regular season wins, the most all-time for the junior high team. The ninth graders also got the opportunity to see the floor in senior high games last in the season. “The future is very promising for this group of girls,” says Coach Duncan.

Thanks to the groundwork being laid now, the future looks bright for all of KIPP Delta’s basketball players. Coach Duncan fielded a seventh grade girls’ team for the first time this year, which allows players to hone their skills before taking the court for junior high games. The foundation is strong and we are excited to see where hard work and dedication will take our student-athletes in the coming years.


Little Bites. Big Impact.

We are excited to announce the second annual Little Bites. Big Impact. event taking place April 9th, 2015 at the Phillips County Community College Fine Arts Center. Little Bites. Big Impact. is a tapas style event showcasing restaurants and chefs from around Arkansas and the Delta. Each chef will feature a “little bite” of their choosing at the event, and there will also be beer and wine for guests to enjoy. Attendees of the event will have the opportunity to sample the “little bites” while also learning about the impact KIPP Delta has had on the community. Each guest will also take home a special gift at the end of the evening. Buy your tickets here today!

Money raised during this event will help cover the costs of facilities, the KIPP Through College program, student enrichment opportunities, and other expenses that are not eligible for public funding. Participation in the event is not only a transforming force here and now for our students, but a lasting contribution to the future of the Delta. There are three sponsorship levels available and tickets are $45 in advance ($50 at the door). If you would like more details or are interested in purchasing tickets please contact Gena Grubbs at 870-714-2193 or


Blytheville Goes Beyond Z for KIPPsters!

KIPP Blytheville’s first-annual Beyond Z event, held on February 7 at the Holiday Inn, brought over 230 people together to celebrate students, staff, and community members who go above and beyond. The evening raised over $38,000 for KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School and KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High school, doubling the amount raised at last year’s SOUPer Bowl event. Beyond Z was emceed by Diamond Watson, Class of 2019, and Austin Lester, Class of 2022.

The event featured two student performances, one by the Class of 2018 percussion ensemble and one by a select choir ensemble. Destinee Terry, Joshua Brown, Taheisha Jefferson, Fredaysia Estell, and Shakiya Riggins performed a rendition of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” which featured solos by all five singers. Bryce Trible, from the Class of 2020, delivered a speech about his journey to college and how KIPP has pushed him to go beyond where he thought he could go. Maisie Wright, school director, gave a speech in which she highlighted the successes at KIPP Blytheville and discussed the challenges that lie ahead on the path to and through college.

A new tradition was introduced, with the addition of annual Beyond Z Awards. The Beyond Z Community Award was given to the late Senator Steve Bryles, for his role in bringing KIPP Delta to Blytheville. From the day he attended the ribbon cutting for KIPP Delta in Helena in 2002, Senator Bryles was adamant about opening a similar school in his community. After eight years of hard work, Senator Bryles was able to see the fruits of his labor when KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School opened in 2010. Now, the KIPP Blytheville campus on Byrum Road has been named the Senator Steve Bryles Memorial Campus in his honor.

The first-ever Beyond Z Staff Award was given to Maisie Wright. After teaching for three years at KIPP Delta College Preparatory School in Helena and completing a year-long fellowship with the KIPP Foundation, Maisie founded KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School in 2010. Four years later, when her founding class was ready to start high school, she founded KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School. Maisie’s passion for providing all students with a college-preparatory education has impacted hundreds of students thus far and has laid the groundwork to reach thousands in the future.

The Beyond Z Student Award was given to Anika Mittal from the Class of 2018. Anika is the consummate model for what it means to go above and beyond in the pursuit of excellence. Last year, on top of taking physical science with her grade level, Anika also took an online biology course as an independent study. Now, while her classmates take biology in their freshman year, she is taking chemistry as an independent study. For the past three years, Anika has applied to competitive summer programs and has attended the ExxonMobil Summer Bernard Harris Science Camp and the University of Arkansas Little Rock High School Research Program during her short summers. In addition to pushing herself to excellence, Anika also supports those around her. By completing her health class as an independent study this year, she has made time in her schedule to assist with reading intervention for younger students. Anika leads a committed group of students in her role of Student Government Association president and she brings a great deal of focus and discipline to her ninth grade percussion ensemble. The first-ever Beyond Z Student Award was certainly well-deserved. Congratulations to Anika!

KIPP Blytheville would like to recognize and thank the sponsors who made this event possible.

  • Grit Sponsors: Holiday Inn, Nucor, and Nucor-Yamato
  • Zest Sponsors: D & L, Inc., Entergy, the Pirtle Family
  • Optimism Sponsors: Clif Chitwood, Hays, Mississippi County Electric Cooperative, Mississippi County Hospital System, Southern Bancorp, and Systems Contracting
  • Gratitude Sponsors: Arkansas Northeastern Scrap Processing, Ernest & Cathy Cunningham, Family Eye Care – Dr. Dean Gurley & Dr. Matt Jones, Farmers Bank & Trust, JMS Russel Metals Corporation, KIPP Blytheville PTO, Liz Smith, Mary Gay Shipley, McKaskle Farms, Nabholz Construction, Nibco, Prunty Weed Control, Scheuck Steel, Stracener Brothers Construction, Temps Plus Staffing


Attend KIPP Delta's Virtual Open House

KIPP Delta will be hosting our very first Virtual Open House on March 9, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.  This open house will give current and perspective families the opportunity to learn more about programs and services provided at our schools, ask administrators questions directly, and complete an enrollment form with a live admissions representative. The open house will include a short presentation by a few speakers, including a student, a parent, and our Executive Director, Scott Shirey, who will share information about all that KIPP Delta has to offer. All you have to do to listen in is dial (855)-756-7520 Ext.27754# at 7:00 p.m. on March 9, 2015. You will be automatically connected to the event! Alternatively, listeners may opt-in before the event by going to Those who opt-in will automatically receive a call connecting them to the event that evening. If you have any questions about the Virtual Open House, please contact Carissa Godwin at 870-714-9635 or


Campus Named for Senator Steve Bryles

On February 7, 2015, KIPP Delta Public Schools hosted a campus naming ceremony in honor of the late Senator Steve Bryles. KIPP Delta's Blytheville campus, at 1200 Byrum Road, was officially named the Senator Steve Bryles Memorial Campus. Over 50 people attended the ceremony, including many past legislators and several members of the Bryles family. KIPP Delta's Executive Director, Scott Shirey, spoke about Senator Bryles and the impact he had on education in Mississippi County. Maisie Wright, school director of KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School and KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School spoke as well. Ben Bryles, Senator Bryles' son, shared remarks on behalf of the family. A new exterior sign and a painting of Steve were unveiled at the ceremony. Kiana Alvoid, a founding student in the Class of 2018, gave a speech about the impact KIPP has had on her life and KIPP Blytheville's eighth grade choir performed for the audience.


2015-2016 Enrollment is Open

KIPP Delta is now accepting applications for prekindergarten through twelfth grade students for the 2015-2016 school year. Your student must be three by August 1, 2015, to enroll in preschool and five by August 1, 2015, to enroll in Kindergarten. Start the journey to and through college by enrolling your student today!

Seats are available at the following sites and grade levels:

  • Helena Campus: Pre-K – 12
  • Blytheville Campus: Grades 4-10
  • Forrest City Campus: Grade 5


College Decisions on the Horizon

Congratulations to the Class of 2015, as 100% of seniors have been accepted to at least one college or university! Students have also been receiving many scholarship offers throughout the winter, and will continue to do so over the next few months. Currently, the Class of 2015 has earned over $800,000 in scholarship money!

View the full list of College Acceptances here.


Upcoming Events

  • Student Application Deadline - April 2, 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