Written By: Barato Britt
With educators, students, and communities gearing to welcome another school year, there is a genuine level of excitement in the Indianapolis Near Eastside Community as the promise of a high-quality educational continuum is taking shape.
An area rich with school options, traditional public, private, and charter among them, in just under two weeks the neighborhood will officially welcome the KIPP-Indianapolis Legacy High School, a neighborhood-based innovation school in partnership with KIPP-Indy and IPS.
Nestled deep in Martindale Brightwood as part of the Leadership and Legacy Campus, the high school offering represents the final piece in the creation of a full K-12 network of schools for KIPP-Indy Public Schools (KIPP’s elementary school, KIPP-Unite will add fifth grade this year opening opportunities to students grades K-9).
The high school has been designed to afford community youth a high-quality educational option that incorporates high expectations, college and life preparedness with intensive academic rigor. Beginning with this year’s freshman class, KIPP Legacy seeks to reinforce a culture of high expectations through the provision of advanced placement classes across all core content areas. This is complemented by the networks’ nationally recognized KIPP Through College program that helps guide students through their prospective postsecondary educational careers. Additionally, the school is set to incorporate internships by students’ junior year, with several local businesses gearing up to serve.
Core to the network’s commitment to the fidelity of missional alignment with the broader neighborhood, KIPP’s deeply rooted ties to the Martindale Brightwood community will be demonstrated through the development of socially conscious young leaders, according to David Spencer, Legacy High’s School Leader, “KIPP Indy Legacy High is devoted to ensuring our students are college-ready, career exposed, and culturally conscious. We believe that these pillars will ensure our students aren’t only successful in college but are transformative as they enter the world.”
If retention is any indication, then current network parents and students are buying in, with over 92% of the school’s inaugural class hailing from KIPP-Indy’s middle school.
“We are excited by the fact that our students from our 8th grade will no longer leave our city to attend high school. We can now ensure that a large majority of our current eighth graders have a high-quality, rigorous school in their backyard,” Spencer added.
With just over 120 students scheduled for day one, the road to the school’s introduction this school year was far from assured. In fact, when KIPP was awarded its high school charter by the mayor’s Office of Education Innovation to introduce the school in 2017, school leadership purposefully delayed opening to address critical factors to ensure the entire network’s adherence to the level of academic excellence stakeholders demand.
Specifically, network leaders utilized the delay to commit to the integration of more robust academic and social service best practices to realize a pipeline that meets the promise of a world-class K-12 network. As a result of this diligence, the network has set aggressive enrollment and growth goals that, by 2023, will demonstrate that students remaining in the network will be well served for the next stage in development.
At the same time, through strategic partnerships both with Indianapolis Public Schools and a growing support network of neighborhood organizations and stakeholders, KIPP-Indy has gained a level of community support that aligns with overall Martindale Brightwood-based initiatives. Most notable among them, the Edna Martin Christian Center, who serves as the network’s before and after school provider, offered Campus space to KIPP-Indy to ensure the high school innovation remained in the neighborhood.
“KIPP Indy Public Schools is deeply committed to the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, and we couldn’t be more excited about the expanding partnerships in our community,” added Andrew Siebert, KIPP-Indy Executive Director. “We are proud to be part of a diverse group of stakeholders who are deeply invested in the success of our neighborhood. The positive momentum in Martindale-Brightwood is palpable, and we are excited to continue to work together with residents and partner organizations to ensure students in our neighborhood have access to an excellent K-12 education.”
An effort three years in the making, the students that will make up the KIPP-Indy Legacy Pride will represent a significant cohort of neighborhood talent filled with promise. With them comes the pride of their entire community knowing our collective future relies on their success.
Barato Britt is Executive Director of the Edna Martin Christian Center Leadership and Legacy Campus and a member of the KIPP-Indy Public Schools Board.