KIPP began in 1994 when two teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, launched a fifth-grade public school program in inner city Houston, after completing their commitment to Teach For America. In 1995, Feinberg remained in Houston to lead KIPP Academy Middle School, and Levin returned home to New York City to establish KIPP Academy in the South Bronx. These two original KIPP academies have grown into a network of schools that are transforming the lives of students in underserved communities and redefining the notion of what is possible in public education.
In 2000, Doris and Don Fisher, co-founders of Gap Inc., formed a partnership with Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin to replicate the success of the original KIPP academies, establishing the KIPP Foundation. Since its founding, the KIPP Foundation has recruited, selected and trained more than 100 outstanding school leaders to open new KIPP schools; rigorously focused on quality even as the network rapidly expanded; and supported innovation that has leveraged the scale of the network. KIPP serves more than 32,000 students in 109 schools spread across 20 states and the District of Columbia.
In 2007, a committee of dedicated business leaders, frustrated with the lack of excellent educational alternatives for low income students, sought to bring a network of high-performing schools to our region. Their plan was to bring KIPP to St.Louis. At the same time Washington University in St. Louis was interested in supporting the establishment of a high-performing public charter school in the city. In 2009, KIPP Inspire Academy opened with the first class of fifth graders in the former Catholic school at St. Francis DeSales Church in the city of St. Louis.
Today, KIPP Inspire has expanded to include grades five through eight, with 320 students. In 2014, KIPP St. Louis will open a second school.
Kelly Garrett, Executive Director, KIPP St. Louis
Kelly became the Executive Director of KIPP St. Louis in 2011. His past experience includes a six-year tenure at The Rainwater Charitable Foundation (where he served as Executive Director from 2009-2011), co-founder of the Project Chrysalis Charter Middle School (Texas) and founder of an early childhood development program (Memphis) and a virtual charter high school that serves students in seven states. Kelly's teaching career began in1992 as Teach For America corps member in Houston. Kelly earned a B.A. in Religious Studies, with a minor in International Studies, from Rhodes College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is also an Aspen Institute – New Schools Fellow. Kelly lives in St. Louis with his wife and two sons. To contact Kelly, click here.
Beverly Arri Rombach, Director of Development, KIPP St. Louis
Beverly joined KIPP St. Louis in January 2011 as the first Director of Development. Beverly has more than a decade of extensive experience in not-for-profit development and communications. As a single parent of four adult children, Beverly believes education is of the utmost importance and has made it a high priority in her family, as well as in her career. As part of the KIPP St. Louis Team & Family, her focus is on advancing the region's mission, while cultivating relationships with its supporters and helping to spread the word about KIPP in the St. Louis area. Beverly is a native St. Louisan. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. To contact Beverly, click here.
Bruce Ellerman, Director of Finance and Operations, KIPP St. Louis
Bruce has wide-ranging experience in public school district finance and operation, including positions as CEO of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, CFO of the Parkway School District in St. Louis County, and Business Manager of Francis Howell School District in St. Louis County. Bruce is a Certified Public Accountant and graduated summa cum laude with a B.S.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Missouri – Columbia. He lives in the Defiance area and has two daughters and a son. To contact Bruce, click here.
Elizabeth Bleier, Director of Talent Acquisition, KIPP St. Louis
Elizabeth joined KIPP St. Louis in 2012 as the Director of Talent Acquisition. Her focus is to attract exceptional talent to work in KIPP St. Louis schools. Elizabeth graduated from Grinnell College in 2006 and then joined Teach For America where she taught special education at Gateway Institute of Technology in the St. Louis Public Schools. She went on to earn her MBA and Master of Educational Leadership at Saint Louis University. Originally from Chicago, Elizabeth feels truly invested in creating excellent educational opportunities for the students of St. Louis. To contact Elizabeth, click here.
Jeremy Esposito, Founder and School Leader of KIPP Inspire Academy
Jeremy is the founder of KIA. Today, KIA serves 320 students in grades five through eight. Early academic results indicate that KIA is one of the highest performing schools in the KIPP network.
Jeremy is a 2004 graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. After graduating from Northwestern, he joined Teach For America and became apart of the charter corps in Camden, N.J. In Camden, he taught 9th and 10th grade English and coached baseball and wrestling at Woodrow Wilson High School. After teaching in a traditional public school, he decided to apply to KIPP so that he could become a part of an environment where teachers are all on the same page and willing to hold students to high expectations. At KIPP Freedom Academy Jeremy taught 7th grade reading. Eventually he became the School Leader there. During Jeremy's time as School Leader, the KIPP Freedom Academy had its largest-ever gains in student achievement as demonstrated by the Stanford 10.
Jeremy is a first-generation college student who attributes his success to the additional help he received as a student in the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound is a pre-college access program designed to motivate first-generation and low-income students to graduate from college. Jeremy hopes his work with KIPP will create an entire network of schools capable of offering similar support to all students. To contact Jeremy, click here.
Andrea Turner, Assistant School Leader, KIPP Inspire Academy
Andrea is a native of St. Louis. She received her B.A. in Education from University of Missouri – St. Louis and her M.S. in Education from Indiana Wesleyan University. Prior to becoming an administrator, Andrea taught grades three through eight. Andrea has a deep passion for not only the students of KIA, but also for their families. She is willing to go above and beyond to ensure the success of all students. Andrea is the Assistant School Leader for KIPP Inspire's 7th and 8th grades. To contact Andrea, click here.
Nisha Wadhwani, Assistant School Leader, KIPP Inspire Academy
Nisha is a 2008 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis where she majored in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. She joined Teach For America after college and taught 7th grade science at Gompers Middle School in Los Angeles. She also worked as a School Operations Manager during Teach For America’s Institute in LA. She arrived at KIPP Inspire as a science teacher in 2010. Nisha’s current role is the Assistant School Leader for KIPP Inspire’s 5th and 6th grades. To contact Nisha, click here.
LaChrisa Crenshaw, Dean of Student Support, KIPP Inspire Academy
LaChrisa has a M.S. of Social Work from St. Louis University. She has worked in the field of social work with children, families and community for more than 18 years. She is most passionate about the urban education reform in St. Louis and works hard to provide social and emotional support services to empower students and their families. Her background includes counseling, crisis intervention, community development and outreach, coordinating programs for children and adults to promote education and social empowerment, mentoring and supervision of volunteers, practicum students and professional staff. To contact LaChrisa, click here.