From a Teacher to a Principal: Here is My Story

Note from La Comadre: This piece was adapted from a speech that was delivered on January 17, 2017.

I’m Colleen Kennedy.

I was previously a teacher and Dean at KIPP Comienza Community Prep in Huntington Park. I am currently preparing to be the school leader of KIPP Corazón Academy.

When I became a teacher, I experienced the power of building relationships with students, families, and the community from my own classroom. But it was when I became a teacher at KIPP Comienza that I felt confident that the promise of a high quality education and strong relationships would be fulfilled by every teacher and team member in the school. At KIPP Comienza, our students proved the possible every single day by having the courage to take risks and ask for help, showing ganas and working relentlessly to achieve their goals, and honoring the stories of every member of their community.

I am excited and optimistic about opening KIPP Corazón because I believe in the power of revolutionary Love. The concept of revolutionary Love as described by Jeff Duncan-Andrade is “the love that is strong enough to bring radical change … It looks like endless dedication, an unyielding belief in the brilliance and potential of every student and the commitment to stop at nothing to get kids to learn.”

Since my father was in the military, my own story is marked by frequent changes of address and schools. As a result, I attended schools all over the country, and I experienced all the challenges that come with those changes and transitions. However, two things were constant: my family’s love and their insistence that my siblings and I receive the best education possible. Through all of the moves, I learned about different cultures, communities, and ways of being. I also saw educational inequities play out in many forms for individual students and for entire communities. Because I know that every family wants the best education for their children and because of the inequities that do exist in our education system, as well as my belief that all students can and will prove the possible that I became an educator.

Our vision for KIPP Corazón is that our students will be courageous and empathetic leaders. Our students will enter high school as confident critical thinkers with the agency to define their own stories and lead change for others. We will prepare students to thrive in high school, college and life by showing the courage to take risks, the ganas to set challenging goals and work hard to reach them, the honor to take pride in their own story and the story of their communities, and the hope to build a better and more equitable tomorrow for themselves, our communities, and our world.

It all starts on day one with a full team of people ready to welcome our students. I can hardly wait for the first moment of that first day as I will welcome every student and family as they step into our school – making the promise that they will be loved, they will be welcomed, and they will belong in our community from the very first moment of their very first day.

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Colleen Kennedy

Colleen Kennedy

Colleen Kennedy will be the founding school leader of KIPP Corazón Academy in Southeast Los Angeles, which will open its doors in fall 2017. Prior to opening KIPP Corazón, Colleen was a Dean and teacher at KIPP Comienza Community Prep. Colleen is excited to continue working to prove the possible with students and families in Southeast LA in the coming years.

Colleen received her M.S. Ed. in Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and she double majored in Government and Psychology at the College of William and Mary.

Colleen Kennedy

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