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Date: 2018-04-10

KIPP New Jersey appoints Joanna Belcher to Executive Director in Newark

Newark, NJ (April 10, 2018) - KIPP New Jersey is pleased to announce that Chief Academic Officer Joanna Belcher will be taking on the role of Executive Director in Newark, effective March 25, 2018. As Executive Director, Joanna will continue building great schools, deepening connections with local families and fostering the quality systems and leaders that make KIPP schools an integral part of the Newark community.

Joanna has been a member of the KIPP community since 2008, when she participated in the KIPP School Leadership Program as a Fisher Fellow. As a fellow, she helped open KIPP SPARK Academy, where she later served as Founding Principal, driving the growth of KIPP New Jersey's first elementary school for five years. While serving as Founding Principal at SPARK, Joanna's school outperformed the state of New Jersey in all tested grade levels and subject areas, and as Chief Academic Officer - a position she has held since 2014 - she has pushed for sweeping changes in the KIPP New Jersey academic program that have contributed to double-digit PARCC gains almost across the board in ELA and Math over the past few years.

"We're very excited to select Joanna for this important role, as we know Joanna has incredibly high expectations for what our kids can do, deeply loves the city of Newark and is committed to ensuring that our schools are community schools in the truest sense of the word," said Ryan Hill, founder and CEO of KIPP New Jersey. "She has a track record as a very strong principal and a transformative Chief Academic Officer, and we are very lucky that she'll continue to serve students in Newark in the Executive Director role."

Joanna began her career as a fellow with Teach for America as part of the San Jose, California corps after graduating from Georgetown University in 2003. She then taught fourth grade and served on the leadership team at Ralph Bunche Elementary School, the first California Distinguished School in Compton, California. Joanna went on to earn her M.Ed & Principal Licensure from Harvard University in 2008, after which she joined KIPP New Jersey.

"Since joining KIPP in 2008, I've loved watching our school communities grow," said Joanna. "Newark is an incredible city and our kids' potential is limitless. I'm excited to continue preparing our kids to graduate from college and change the world."

Joanna will be taking over the role of Executive Director from Ryan Hill, who has been serving as both CEO of KIPP New Jersey and Executive Director of the Newark schools. Ryan will stay on as CEO, and the region has begun its search for a new Chief Academic Officer.

About KIPP New Jersey

KIPP New Jersey schools are part of the nationally recognized "Knowledge Is Power Program" non-profit network of college-preparatory, free, public charter schools educating elementary, middle, and high school students. In 2002, KIPP New Jersey first opened its doors in Newark's South Ward as a single class of 80 fifth graders and has since grown to serve over 4,500 students in grades K-12 in Newark and Camden. More than 92% of KIPP New Jersey students currently qualify for free or reduced meals.

In the next few years, KIPP New Jersey will have fifteen schools in Newark and ten in Camden. By offering highly effective educators with strong bonds to families, more time in school learning, services that support a variety of student needs, and a culture focused on achievement, our students are on the path to and through college proving that demographics don't define destiny. Visit KIPPNJ.org to learn more.

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