The Cool Kids of Kindezi
We had a great visit with the leaders and students at the Kindezi Charter School this week. Principal Dean Leaper opened the school in 2010 with 96 students in grades K-3. Today the school serves 218 students in grades K-7 from all over Atlanta and next year will add an eighth grade class.
Built on the idea that school should feel like family, Kindezi embraces a small class size model, with six to seven students per class. They’ve stood firmly behind their model, and even their middle school grades have a 1:6 ratio between teachers and students. Their standardized test results are impressive, they are one of the highest performing charter schools in the state and the highest performing elementary school in APS.
During my visit I noticed bright and cheery classrooms that utilized every inch of space, student work that showcased students’ creativity and critical thinking exchanges between kids and teachers.
I was happy to meet Ava who heard me speak over the weekend and remembered what I said about attendance. During the speech I reminded the audience that too many of our students miss school one day every two weeks. That adds up to one month of missed instruction every year. Over five years, it adds up to about half a school year of missed instruction. I was really trying to remind everyone that absences hurt achievement, and Ava really heard me!
In the school’s latest annual report, Principal Leaper says that the success of the school is a result of their guiding principles which include family-sized classes to allow for maximum differentiation of instruction, Socratic tutorial and close, positive relationships between students, teachers, families and administrators. He also says the school has high quality teachers who are empowered to use their experience and creativity to bring out the best in their students creating a culture that combines rigorous expectations partnered with caring, individualized support.
A special thank you to my tour guides for the day, Nubia and Johari. Like their classmates, they were really cool kids – very informative, energetic and all around awesome. 6thgrader Johari did a great job of giving me his take on the novel “Miracle’s Boys” by Jacqueline Woodson and 7thgrader Nubia explained her writing/art project and how she REALLY loves cats.
Have a great school year Kindezi!