Staff Interview

Why is teaching important to you?

It's one of the most critical jobs out there. It's a chance to give a child freedom to be whatever they want to be. Teachers hold the power to mold the future for the lives of their students. What's more important than that?

Why did you decide to teach at a KIPP School?

After teaching in Newark for three years, I left to pursue another job in education reform in New York City. While I enjoyed that job, I definitely felt like something was missing. I missed my students and the city of Newark, but was wary of returning to the public schools. When I met Joanna Belcher, my principal at SPARK Academy, I was instantly inspired by her vision for what education could look like for Newark's youngest students. When she spoke about the freedom that TEAM schools has to lead and the autonomy provided to each teacher to do what is best for their students at all times, I was sold.

What makes TEAM unique?

Every person on our expanding staff is not only extremely kid-focused and dedicated, but also very helpful, approachable and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that we are providing support for our students and each other. We work really hard but also know how to have a good time and celebrate all of our accomplishments. We embody the "J-Factor" :)

What is your funniest moment at TEAM?

Every day with Kindergarteners produces at least one hundred funny moments... From dance parties to defining terms in "kid language" to wearing two different-colored shoes while dressing in the dark... we've seen it all!

Results show that kids are catching up to their peers by eighth grade. Why still work so hard?

Everyone still works so hard because we all believe that until EVERY child in this country receives an excellent education, our job will never truly be done.

How have you grown in your career since joining TEAM?

How can you NOT grow when you are surrounded by people who are constantly striving to be and do better for their students? (And, on a side note, I have received more instructional professional development in one year at SPARK than in all six years in teaching/ed reform combined...)

How are our students being the change?

They are entering first grade prepared for SECOND grade! They are shining examples of hard work, love, service to their community and perseverance as they climb the mountain to college and beyond.

At work, how and what do you learn from the people around you?

I'm convinced that I learn something new every single day. Open communication, honesty and frequent feedback are values and practices that my school embodies constantly. Every person I encounter in my own school and throughout the network is humbled and always seeking better practices and solutions. We all see ourselves as learners and people who live by the values we instill in our students, and, as a result, are constantly growing as educators and people.


NAME: Ms. Jolley

TITLE: 1st Grade Interventionist & New Teacher Coach

CAMPUS: SPARK Academy, Elementary

YEARS TEACHING: Since 2009 with KIPP. Before that, I taught for three years in Newark Public Schools, followed by my role as a Program Director for Teach For America New York City for two years.

Hometown: Princeton, New Jersey

EDUCATION: University of Southern California - Political Science and Gender Studies