Teacher Spotlight – April 2018

Meet Ms. Chelsea Dunn / 4th grade Lead Teacher / KIPP DC Promise Academy

As a child psychology major at Hampton University, Chelsea knew she wanted to work in a setting with children every day. She initially began her classroom experience as a para-educator and quickly solidified her passion for teaching. Entering the classroom, she strove to be a mentor and advocate for students. She explains, “I knew that I wanted to work with children of color, that looked like me, and give them an opportunity. I go to work every day inspired by them. Their energy, enthusiasm, their desire to learn. They encourage me every day.”

Chelsea looked for opportunities where she could enter the classroom without a background in education. During her exploration, she learned about the Capital Teaching Residency from a friend. Chelsea was immediately drawn to the mentorship model. “To have the opportunity to learn how to be a teacher for a year, I can’t put into words how much that changed my life for the better. The Capital Teaching Residency used a gradual release, so I was supported the entire time.”

After spending a year under her mentor teacher at Promise Academy, Chelsea became a fourth grade lead teacher. When asked about her favorite things she points to the supportive culture and dedicated team. “My colleagues are my family, my students are my family. It’s part of every single thing that I do. I know that my kids feel safe and that echoes from the team and family environment that my administration and my coworkers create. We can mirror that on our students.”

On the fourth grade team, Chelsea brings her passion for culturally relevant teaching. She ensures that their curriculum and extracurricular activities keep students at the center. “We’re teaching all African American students, I made sure we could bring that into the curriculum. We can’t overlook it. We need to make sure that they can see themselves and where they came from.”

As part of ensuring a culturally relevant curriculum, Chelsea hosted a current event series. Following the recent school shooting in Parkland, Chelsea organized students to participate in the National School Walk Out. She first created a curriculum that was scaffolded for each grade level, so they could learn about the power of peaceful protest. Students were able to make signs and participate in chants. Reflecting on the day she says, “I saw my children changing. They realized we can write to our politicians. We can facilitate change, no matter how old you are.”

Knowing her students and having a deep love and respect for them is at the center of Chelsea’s classroom. Her advice for aspiring teachers? “As with any relationship, there must be a solid foundation before you can tell or ask someone to do something. You must develop a level of trust before you teach. Start at the very basics that humans want to feel loved and trusted and build from there.”

Chelsea Dunn KIPP DC Promise Academy teacher

Join a team that keeps trust and students at the center. KIPP DC is looking for qualified and passionate lead teachers and Capital Teaching Residents!

Posted on April 26, 2018 in Awards & Recognition