By Diamond Graham, Principal, KIPP Elements Primary School

Uncertainty is a place where ideas can flourish and blossom – a state where anything is possible. This year, uncertainty continues to be those things, but it also looks like balancing safety with the need for our achievers to learn in person. It is answering really tough questions from families as they choose for their children to attend school in person or remain fully remote.

A year ago, I was certain that KIPP Elements Primary School fostered personal discovery and academic excellence in partnership with families. That we recognize, honor, and fuse our experiences in school to empower each other as innovative thinkers, powerful creators, and thoughtful community members. I was certain that students could CREATE– be Courageously Courageous, be Reflective, show Empathy, Advocate, to show Teamwork, and be Excellent. While this year has put our mission and vision to the test, I am still certain that we are all of those things.

What does this look like in the midst of a pandemic? It is hearing the perspectives and stories, and learning from our school community. It is educators innovating how we teach students to read, write, and become problem solvers. It is students taking risks to express themselves while navigating a mute button. This has meant our community greeting each other in the morning with dances or waves, and getting to know one another through a screen.

It also looks like families taking pictures of their child on the first day of school. It sounds like a Kindergartener asking, “What’s recess?” and falling in love when they discover this new way to play. It sounds like kids asking if they can be each other’s friends. It sounds like happy giggles, chants, and cheers coming from classrooms. It sounds like mistakes made and apologies given. It sounds like all of the certainties I once knew.

We call our KIPPsters astronauts. Astronaut comes from the Greek words “astro,” meaning stars, and “nautes,” meaning sailor. Astronauts – sailors of the stars. When our students enter the building or their virtual classroom each day, they continue their mission of building the elements they need to actualize their dreams of being creators. While we may be uncertain about what tomorrow brings, in person or on Zoom, one thing remains true: KIPP Elements students are sailing the stars towards their future dreams with their families and teachers by their side.