Our elementary schools are places where curiosity is contagious, reading is sacred, and character is paramount. Each day, we make learning come alive for students through an intensive academic program that places children in the driver’s seat of their education, and empowers them to become lifelong learners.
KIPP NJ elementary schools implement renowned literacy program Fountas and Pinnell Classroom to help support reading engagement and growth. This approach emphasizes the joy of reading through read-alouds, hands-on activities, songs, and asking big questions to help bring the text to life. We encourage students to read books at and above their reading levels in order to build literacy skills. We also make sure our students interact deeply with texts at the grade level standard. Stop any student in our hallways and ask them what they’re reading–then prepare yourself for a long conversation–they’ll probably list three to five books! Students participate in several independent and guided reading sessions each day and also have frequent opportunities to select books from classroom or school libraries.
Our math curriculum is centered around real-world problem-solving. Through the tough problems they tackle and the culture of collaboration in the classroom, our kids fall in love with the study of mathematics. We reject “I do, we do, you do” teaching where students imitate the teacher’s approach to a problem. Instead, our lessons require kids to use what they know to attack a new problem that is one step beyond what they have ever done, but still possible for kids to tackle with hard work. Our math curriculum is derived from the Eureka Math program and we center the program around the Cognitively Guided Instruction method, which empowers students to progressively build on what they know about math to infer solutions to problems and represent their thinking in multiple ways.
Our middle schoolers enjoy a challenging and immersive academic program that prepares them for success in both high school and college. The curriculum encourages students to think critically, develop claims, and debate ideas, and to always support opinions with evidence. Middle school students also have access to extracurricular opportunities that help them develop confidence, creativity, and independence.
In English Language Arts classes, we use a balance of close reading, guided reading, and independent reading to build student mastery of fiction and nonfiction texts. Our literacy curriculum presents students with texts that provide meaningful exposure to important periods in history, as well as contemporary works that are must-reads for kids today. As a result, our middle school students gain insight into important social justice issues by grappling with texts that highlight issues of race, class, and power in our society. Students are encouraged to challenge each other’s thinking and participate in constructive debate.
We also encourage middle schoolers to build upon their math and science knowledge. In math courses, students balance skill mastery with deep conceptual understanding of math. We urge students to explain their reasoning, debate different approaches, and describe how they arrived at an answer. In science, we utilize cross-cutting concepts to help kids recognize patterns, explain phenomena, and see the infinite connectedness of our world. Our Amplify Science curriculum melds technology with hands-on components, building on kids’ natural curiosity about the world around them.
KIPP New Jersey’s high school programming is dedicated to fulfilling our promise to students to support them to and through college, and onto choice-filled lives. From day one, students are challenged inside and outside the classroom, from a large roster of Advanced Placement and honors classes, to varsity athletics and a variety of clubs for different student interests. Our KIPP Through College counselors are there every step of the way to ensure that students reach their post-graduation potential.
Whether it’s honing the writing skills that help them critically examine complex texts, or learning about managing personal finance in a Financial Literacy elective, every student is encouraged to forge real-life connections with classroom learning. Our program ensures that every student will be enrolled in at least one AP course before graduation. In fact, our AP for All approach is a hallmark of our high school program. We believe that enrollment in AP coursework in high school not only exposes our students to college-level curriculum at an early age, but also provides meaningful at-bats with the skills and habits that all students need to be successful in college. Colleges who review our students’ applications know that KIPP NJ high school students have competitive profiles as a result of their involvement with AP coursework.
At KIPP NJ, we believe that developing our students as people is as important as their academic growth. Our school values form the basis of our approach to character education, and we meet with families regularly to discuss these values and learn how to embody them in our daily lives. Each week, schools gather as a community to celebrate progress, engage in group goal-setting, and establish an intention for the week. We believe in the importance of teamwork and refer to our classes as teams. Each of our schools has traditions and events that support this idea and foster a spirit of teamwork across the building. Our elementary schools have morning meeting time built into the daily schedule to talk about values and goals for the day; our middle school programs similarly have homeroom time for the same purpose.