KIPP Inspire Is Truly Inspirational
St. Francis de Sales, where KIPP Inspire Academy is located.
Photo Credit: (CC) Phillip B. Roussin
At the corner of Lynch Street and Ohio Avenue in South Saint Louis stands one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, St. Francis de Sales Oratory. Walk just past the church’s exquisite edifices and I believe you will see something just as wonderful: students learning.
In the adjacent building, students of KIPP Inspire Academy are working hard to “climb the mountain to college.” The school, part of the national network of public charter schools known as Knowledge Is Power Program, opened in 2009 and is now in its fourth year. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting KIPP Inspire Academy. The school’s executive director, Kelly Garrett, took me on a tour of the renovated facilities, pointing out upgrades that KIPP has made and introducing me to faculty. We popped into several classrooms and saw students and teachers hard at work. As is characteristic of KIPP schools, classrooms were well-managed and full of learning.
After our tour, I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Garrett. He had been pouring over recently released achievement data from the state. I have yet to examine these data myself, but he showed me numerous graphs he had made and noted on several measures that the students of KIPP Inspire were outperforming state averages. Though, he always paused and reminded me of the long road ahead and how the school must continue to improve. That constant desire to evaluate, celebrate success, and continually improve is also a hallmark of every KIPP school I have visited.
Today, KIPP Inspire serves students in fifth through eighth grades and is the only school from the nationally renowned KIPP network in the Saint Louis area, but that may change because Garrett has plans to expand. The biggest obstacle to growth, as he sees it, is finding talented individuals to staff the classrooms. Hopefully, the success of KIPP Inspire will inspire more individuals to take up the mantle of education and will increase the pool of talented teachers in Missouri.