Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a great piece about the first graduating class from KIPP Inspire Academy, a charter middle school in South Saint Louis. The story noted that KIPP Inspire has had remarkable success improving student achievement:

As a result, the class of fifth-graders who entered KIPP Inspire Academy in 2009, many with a third-grade understanding of reading and math, completed eighth grade last week, bound for some of the most prestigious college prep high schools in the region.



However, what struck me most about the story was the fact that KIPP puts its students on an entirely new trajectory.

One student, De’Ja Wood, might have been attending Riverview Gardens High School next year, a perennially under-performing school. Instead, she will attend Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), a premier private school, on a full scholarship. In fact, many of her classmates are bound for “some of the most prestigious college prep high schools in the region.”

For many of these students, an elite private education was out of the question just a few short years ago. That is what KIPP has done. It has taken these students who were performing at very low levels and raised their level of achievement dramatically; it has instilled a tremendous work ethic and drive; and it has put a great high school and college education within their grasp.

KIPP Inspire Academy is a young school and there is certainly much room to improve. Still, it is exciting to see a school making such an impact on the lives of so many students. To me, this illustrates the point that poverty does not determine a student’s future. It may be difficult, but schools and teachers truly can change a student’s path in life.

KIPP Inspire students will be attending a host of great high schools in our region. Below is a list of just some of the schools to which KIPP Inspire students have been accepted:



Cardinal Ritter College Prep

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School

Chaminade College Prep

Christian Brothers College High School

Crossroads College Preparatory School

Gateway STEM High School

Grand Center Arts Academy

Metro Academic and Classical High School

MICDS

Nerinx Hall High School

St. Louis Medical School

St. Louis University High School

Cardinal Ritter College Prep

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School

Chaminade College Prep

Christian Brothers College High School

Crossroads College Preparatory School

Gateway STEM High School

Grand Center Arts Academy

Metro Academic and Classical High School

MICDS

Nerinx Hall High School

St. Louis Medical School

St. Louis University High School
James V. Shuls, Ph.D. 1

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James Shuls 1