Recently my son Basir, who attends eighth grade at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy’s Whittier Middle School, met with the person who will be his principal in high school. This might not seem remarkable, why wouldn’t an eighth grader meet their high school principal? But it was an exciting day for my son and for me. 

Basir started with KIPP Whittier Middle the year they opened in Camden in 2016. He’s always been a good student, but his growth with KIPP has been incredible. He receives individual attention from teachers who are truly invested in who he is as a person. They know he is passionate about art, and he’s had the chance to build on that with KIPP. The teachers also cater to the kids by offering smaller group lessons that give them the chance to excel or catch up if needed. They’ll even bring in outside resources if that’s what a student needs. 

When Basir started with KIPP they didn’t have a high school in Camden. This meant our high school options were limited and his continued incredible growth and success wasn’t guaranteed. Recently, KIPP announced plans to open a brand new high school in the summer of 2020.  We were overjoyed to hear the news.  Now that KIPP is opening their first high school in Camden, he can continue to thrive in a close-knit and supportive environment that will make sure he’s set up for success for whatever path he chooses. As a parent, this is a weight lifted off my shoulders. 

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The bonds that KIPP teachers build with students doesn’t end at the classroom door. The teachers truly care about each student and aren’t just in it for the paycheck. In fact, KIPP teachers have even shown up to my kids’ track meets and football games to show they are there to cheer them on outside of school as well as in the classroom. 

Because of schools like KIPP, Camden children are achieving at higher levels and have opportunities to flourish that didn’t previously exist. But that’s not the only reason I’m excited that KIPP is opening a high school. The high school will open in the former Sumner Elementary School which has stood vacant in my neighborhood for years. I got to see firsthand the improvements KIPP made to the Whittier building just a few years ago. They did a beautiful job and it’s become a valuable resource to the community. I know the renovations they do at Sumner will provide Camden students with a world-class facility and offer an anchor in our community. 

I’m glad schools like KIPP are growing in Camden and offering our children high quality options and the opportunity to achieve their dreams. This is what every parent wants for their child no matter their zip code. 

Rosalyn Goodwater is a KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy parent and Camden resident.