KIPP Heritage Academy: Building a Brighter Future in San Jose and Beyond

After it was announced that I would be taking over as Successor School Leader at KIPP Heritage Academy, one of the most frequently asked questions was: “What is your vision for the school?” At first, it was a challenging question to answer. I joined the Heritage Team & Family in 2016 as a teacher and have held various roles since. It’s hard to imagine a different vision for Heritage than the one we’ve been working to realize over the last seven years as a school. However, I knew that as the new principal I had to be clear about what was important to myself and us as a school community. 

To do that, I set out on a listening tour where my admin team and I would meet with and listen to various members of our community. Last Spring, the Heritage administration team posed questions and listened to over 50 voices talk about what makes Heritage a special place. We asked about the school’s strengths and opportunities of growth. We met with students to hear directly from them about what mattered and what kind of school they wanted. We met with families to ask about what was working for them, what changes they would make, and what dreams they had for their students. Our administration team was struck by the love and dedication for the students in our community from all stakeholders. Teachers and staff put students first in all of their responses, while students talked about things their peers might want to see even if it wasn’t something they cared about as much. Families spoke of the fulfilling lives they wanted their students to have. From our listening tour, one thing became clear: like San José, the hopes and dreams of our students and families are diverse and beautiful. We have students whose goals are vastly different: from becoming doctors to artists to engineers to professional video gamers. It is my belief that KIPP Heritage Academy needs to prepare students so they can lead fulfilling lives and make choices based on their hopes and dreams. After the listening tour, it became clear that our vision needed to reflect that, while still including so much of what made Heritage special before: knowing your history and story, believing in students, and making positive change in our communities. Using the suggestions from our listening tour, our administration team was able to revisit our school vision and update it to match the needs of our community. 

We are proud and excited to share our updated KIPP Heritage Academy vision:

At KIPP Heritage, we embrace our histories as we build a brighter future in San Jose and beyond. We see greatness in every student, family, and community. 

Our students will develop a deep awareness of themselves in order to be prepared to thrive in the world around us. Through a strong academic and enrichment program, students write and tell their stories, as well as listen to the stories of others with compassion. As our students develop a strong sense of self and acquire skills and content necessary to lead fulfilling lives, they will learn to advocate for themselves and their communities with humility and clarity. KIPP Heritage students will have a critical lens through which they are equipped to challenge inequitable systems of access, power, and privilege. 

With this strong foundation of knowledge, skills, and character, KIPP Heritage students will be agents of positive change, empowered as authors of their own lives.

It is our hope that this vision is reflective of the community we partner with and believe that realizing this vision will help all our students thrive. At KIPP Heritage, we believe deeply in the power of collaboration and partnership with families. We will continue to work closely and build relationships with families to push our school to accomplish great things for our students. Building strong and authentic relationships with students and families has always been a priority of mine and our team. From hearing life updates at Coffee with the Principal or meeting students’ little siblings at KIPP101; Building a Bridge from the Class to My Home: KIPP 101 and KIPP 201 Orientationsgetting to know our community in and outside of school is one of the best parts of the job!  We encourage all families and community members to join us at Coffee with the Principals, KIPP Family Association Meetings, and other events we hold. We are excited and eager to work with you and hear your voices, our doors are always open!

What do you think?
The following two tabs change content below.
Danica Donnelly

Danica Donnelly

Danica Donnelly is honored to be the School Leader at KIPP Heritage Academy. Before joining the KIPP Team and Family, she joined Teach For America and moved to South Dakota to live and work on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation where she taught 1st grade. During her time there, she learned her passion for education and creating spaces where students can be challenged and learn to critically think about the world around them. In 2016, Danica joined the KIPP Heritage Team and Family where she taught 5th grade social studies and then transitioned into an administrative role. Danica holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Roger Williams University and a Master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Although originally from New York, Danica has lived and worked in this community since 2016 and calls San José home.

More Comments