Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy - KAPPA
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Strong academics and calm and caring atmosphere
Limited resources for arts and electives
KAPPA (Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy) has challenging academics, seasoned staff and a motivated student body. Originally modeled after the successful KIPP Academy Charter School, KAPPA is designed to prepare middle school students for demanding high schools.
Very few schools have such a calming and caring atmosphere. Everyone seems eager to start the day when the first class begins at 7:45 am. Adults and students say “Good Morning! How are you today? ” to one another, taking the time to wait for a response. Girls wear burgundy uniforms and the boys, navy blue.
On our visit, we were impressed by students’ breadth of understanding. Students are encouraged to ask “why,” to explain how they got their answers, why they chose a certain approach, and why they might disagree with a classmate. We heard comments like: “I did it this way because,” or, “My strategy was like yours because.” The students speak very softly at KAPPA, almost a hush.
There is a no-nonsense approach to bullying. Not only are parents contacted immediately if there is problem, but students learn to dis-empower bullies. They’re taught not to laugh, participate or encourage the bully in any way. “Let them step out on the bullying island alone and face the consequences,” says Sheri Warren, principal since 2005.
The school has a good record teaching English to newcomers. Students who speak West African languages or Spanish at home are immersed in English, and many are able to take Regents’ exams, in English, by 8th grade.
In a program called KAPPA’s Keepers, each adult in the building is assigned 10 students to meet with regularly to provide a safe space to air life issues.
The school uses an incentive system call the “V Chip challenge.” Students are introduced to vocabulary words each Monday and challenged to use them in class that week. When the word is used appropriately, students receive a chip that can be redeemed and build up to a certificate as a V Chip Champion. We saw students taking risks with vocabulary in a social studies class discussing climate. One young man tried to use the word “cater,” but it wasn’t applicable, however, a peer correctly stated that, “Severe weather could cause the population to ‘abate,” earning her chip and helping the class understand proper context. KAPPA Cash rewards good behavior, rather than punishing children for bad behavior.
Opened in 2000, KAPPA is located in the IS 219 complex, sharing the building with FDA III and IS 219 New Venture School. Some graduates go on to KAPPA International High School in the Roosevelt Campus.
One drawback: Because of limited funding, only about 90 students may take part in afterschool arts electives.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers team-teaching as well as self-contained classes. Students with special needs often read the same texts as general education students.
ADMISSIONS: District 9 students. KAPPA looks at each child's academic and attendance records, and requires an entrance exam and an interview. (Jacqueline Wayans, September 2017)