Naima Askew

Naima Askew, KIPP Academy Middle School, Learning Specialist and Grade Level Chair

A fortuitous visit from Dave Levin, the leader of a brand new school, and Frank Corcoran, one of the founding teachers, changed the course of Naima Askew’s life when she was a 4th-grade student in the South Bronx. After hearing their pitch, Naima knew that she was destined to become a member of the third KIPP Academy Middle School class.

Nearly 25 years later, Mr. Corcoran is KIPP Academy’s principal and Naima is teaching KIPP Academy Middle School students who are sitting in the same seats that she did:

“KIPP opened our eyes to the fact that the world is much bigger than the Bronx. I realized that you could find yourself somewhere else. I toured the United States playing the violin; our 8th-grade trip was to California.”

After KIPP Academy Middle School, Naima participated in the highly selective Oliver Scholars program, attending boarding school in Connecticut. She then graduated from Manhattanville College with a major in Psychology. After discovering her interest in education, KIPP Academy recruited her as an after-school program director. She has since moved into the classroom as an 8th Grade Learning Specialist. She is also a leader among her fellow teachers as the Grade Level Chair:

“It’s surreal. I always said I wanted to go back and work for KIPP. When you put your mind to it, things happen. Being an alum helps with teaching because I get to instill the values that started 25 years ago, but I get to put a new spin on it. I tell the students, ‘In 15 years, you could be me.’”

Naima credits her love for teaching at the middle school she attended to her KIPP education and passion for supporting her community:

“Being an alum keeps me going. You can come back and watch the students bloom.”

Reflecting on her days as a KIPP Academy student and now teaching in the same school:

“The message is still the same: do what you need to do now, to do what you want to do later.”

She has advice to educators who are considering a career at KIPP:

“If you are passionate about these kids, then you will do whatever it takes to help them succeed.”