School Leader Spotlight: Caroline Frye, KIPP DC Lead Academy

Coming from a family of educators Caroline Frye, principal of KIPP DC Lead Academy, always envisioned herself inside the classroom. “I grew up in a house full of educators,” she said. “My mom and grandmother were both teachers. I remember going to school with my mom and attending staff meetings where I’d be in the corner playing with die-cuts or in the teacher workroom somewhere. I was made aware of education’s importance and the issues we face in education very early.”

After graduating from Wake Forest University with a degree in elementary education, Ms. Frye taught for three years in Houston with KIPP Shine before joining KIPP DC Lead Academy in 2014. “My favorite part about being inside the classroom was just getting to know my students as individuals and growing learners. Students bring so much of themselves to the classroom. As much as I would teach them, I learned just as much from them in return.”

The classroom was home to Ms. Frye, and much like her mother who spent 30 years inside the classroom as a teacher, it was where she saw herself long term. While she would transition into a role as vice principal at KIPP DC Lead Academy, she realized quickly how applicable the lessons she learned inside the classroom apply to the day-to-day responsibilities of running a school.

“My grounding force as a school leader is knowing that you have to be able to do the work before you can lead the work. Every leader in our building is still a teacher first. A large part of the decisions we make are still framed through that teacher lens of what’s is best for kids.”

“We All Teach All Kids,” is the ethos that grounds the school culture at KIPP DC Lead Academy in an all hands on deck approach to ensuring the success of students. “What I love most about working alongside the staff here is their commitment to students first and their thoughtfulness,” said Caroline. “I feel a sense of belonging in this building because of the staff. They show up every day for their students. They genuinely care for each other, and I know that shows up inside the classroom. Our students walk into the building each day and know that someone cares about them, someone loves them, and someone is one their side.”

It’s the unwavering commitment to scholars that is a source of pride for Ms. Frye because it speaks to how much students at Lead Academy are valued as individuals first. By investing in students for who they are, not just what they can achieve, it translates to more joyful classrooms and the authentic elementary experience of school also being fun. “We want students to wake up every day and want to run to their classrooms because they can’t wait to dive into what they’re going to do that day. If we’re doing our job right, the students leave our classrooms excited, ready to tackle challenges, and knowing they have the tools to succeed.”

From attending staff meetings with her mother, to now at the helm of a school as principal, Caroline Frye is leading with love as Lead Academy empowers Washington, D.C.’s next generation of leaders.

Posted on September 12, 2019 in Community