Marquetta: A Passion for Education - KIPP NYC

Marquetta: A Passion for Education

After eight years as a KIPP NYC student and four years at Lycoming College, Marquetta Felder is returning to the classroom as a History Teacher at The Storm King School in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY.

Marquetta Felder, KIPP NYC College Prep High School Class of 2018, Lycoming College Class of 2022


After eight years as a KIPP NYC student and four years at Lycoming College, Marquetta Felder is returning to the classroom this summer as a History Teacher at The Storm King School in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY. It is where she was always meant to be, but when she was a child Marquetta wasn’t as enthusiastic about school. She had been bullied in elementary and was worried that she would find herself in a similar situation upon transitioning to KIPP STAR Middle School in 5th grade. For a young girl who loved learning, she quickly discovered in that first year as a KIPP student a community in which she was supported and belonged.


“In middle school, I had lots of teachers that supported me, encouraged me, and really believed in me. It was the first time that I really enjoyed going to school. When I went to KIPP STAR, I made friends that I still talk to today. Before I did my in-person interviews at Storm King I had a pep talk with my 7th grade science teacher Ms. Douglas – we did a Zoom call for like an hour. She helped me prepare for the interviews, asked me questions, and gave me words of encouragement as I start this new chapter in my life.”


Marquetta reflected on what made the KIPP experience so important to her.


“I felt a connection with [the teachers] and felt that they cared about us outside of academics. And I found a group of like-minded students – we were all friends and we pushed each other academically. For middle school, I actually graduated salutatorian and my friend was the valedictorian, we had fun competing with each other. In 5th grade, we would stay after school and they would teach us 6th grade math. In 8th grade, we were actually learning algebra so we could take the algebra Regents ahead of time. These experiences were really fun. The rewards we got for doing well like the shirts, trips, and  the Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast for students on Honor Roll and Deans’ List encouraged me even more to do well. And even when things weren’t great for me at home, just going to KIPP felt like my safe haven.”


Marquetta had a similarly enriching experience at KIPP NYC College Prep High School:


“I enjoyed meeting KIPP students from the other middle schools. Every summer I did a program. I did two coding programs. I traveled to Thailand my junior year. I went to Belize with a science teacher the summer before senior year. I also worked at a summer camp so I was always very active and constantly in the career office. I was a peer mentor for a freshman advisory. I went to the Black and Brown Pride and yearbook clubs. I was a part of the senior leadership council.”


Marquetta continued to be active on the Lycoming College campus despite a college experience interrupted by the pandemic:


“It took me one semester to finally be like, ‘Actually I like being here and this is where I should be.’ I was a part of the Black Student Union all four years; my senior year I served as President. I also went to other clubs, like the Latin American Student Organization my junior year, and through the BSU collaborated with other groups. I was a part of the Diversity Equity Inclusion and Race Equity Symposium Committees. We organized events around building a more inclusive campus and discussing issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality to address the concerns that students had. I was also an RA my sophomore and junior year. I had residents that were from KIPP schools. Also, just from my friend group I met lots of students from different KIPP regions  like NOLA, St. Louis, New Jersey, and Memphis to name a few. Whenever there was a group of us around each other I would always be the one in the moment to say, ‘Oh my gosh it’s a KIPP cousin meet up!’”


While the pandemic disrupted her junior year at Lycoming, from socially distanced classes in masks to club meetings over Zoom, Marquetta was able to keep the Black Student Union strong, and even grew the active member list by 50%. She was also on the Lycoming Leadership Council where the presidents of the Cultural Group Council, the GSA, Latin American Student Organization, and Student Athletic Council met and discussed the state of student involvement and how to improve things with the faculty’s Dean of Student Life.

After excelling academically and being a student leader in both high school and college, it is not surprising that Marquetta is starting her career as a History Teacher at The Storm King School. Her desire to be an educator stems from both the positive school experiences and the inspiring teachers she had at KIPP NYC and Lycoming.


“I’ve always admired teachers. I keep lots of connections with my teachers. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without my teachers, whether it was them simply doing their job of teaching or going above and beyond in supporting me. There’s been lots of times where I maybe didn’t believe in myself and they were always my number one supporters and in my corner, pushing me and also opening my eyes to my true potential. It was teachers like Mr. Pilgrim, Mr. Fields, and Ms. Malik who always made sure I never gave up on myself and utilized all of the resources available to me. I hope I am able to help students and inspire them to dream big when I start teaching as well.”


As she looks forward to her first year as a classroom teacher, she has the following advice for students who are about to embark on the college journey:


“Be true to yourself. It’s OK to be unsure of what you want to do. It’s important to believe in yourself, and hold the people that believe in you close to your heart.”

We are now accepting applications for all grades for the 2024-25 school year!


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