Meet Ms. Elizabeth Nickens-El / Kindergarten Lead Teacher / KIPP DC Grow Academy
“I heard about the proven results for Washington, D.C. I wanted to be there! I wanted to be part of this community.”
Ms. Elizabeth Nickens-El joined KIPP DC as a resident teacher in 2009. Since then, she has worked in several roles in early childhood education including as a PreK lead teacher, and now as Kindergarten grade level chair at KIPP DC Grow Academy.
Elizabeth’s journey to education started after earning her bachelor’s degree in social work. Elizabeth first heard about KIPP DC from her sister, who worked for LEAP Academy. She explains, “I heard about the proven results for Washington, D.C. I wanted to be there! I wanted to be part of this community.”
As a resident teacher, Elizabeth worked under a mentor teacher to earn the necessary teaching credentials and experience to lead her own classroom. “My mentor said you can do this, I’m behind you 100%. This made me eager and hungry for more.” This strong start was also buoyed by the coaching of her leadership team. Elizabeth explains that her school leader helped her learn the importance of data-driven instruction, “she helped me to look into student performance and dig deeper to figure out what the students’ misconceptions were.”
Continuing in her career at KIPP DC, Elizabeth is inspired and supported by the teachers and staff on her team. On the Kindergarten team, which Elizabeth leads, teachers meet every week to share best practices and role play lessons and situations. They also find time to come together when a solution is needed. “If there’s a problem, we come together to figure out what it is we need to do to get through the trial. That is the support system you need.”
For Elizabeth, the students and families in her class are what motivates her teaching. She shares, “Seeing smiles on kids’ faces, and parents coming to me and telling me ‘I just love you Ms. Nickens-El.’ That makes me happy and keeps me coming back.”
She has also paid it forward at KIPP DC. In addition to leading her team, Elizabeth also mentors a capital teaching resident in her own classroom. “There are so many support systems. We have coaches, mentors, and managers to help develop and guide us to become even greater teachers. You won’t be alone, you will have support.”