Meet Ms. Sara Hamid / ELA Special Education Teacher / AIM Academy
Before beginning her journey in the classroom, Ms. Sara Hamid earned her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in International Studies and Economics. After graduating, Sara pursued a career in non-profits providing grants for a range of projects, including domestic violence survivors, crime prevention, and reentry into the community after incarceration. In her position, she often traveled to project sites to observe and support. On one trip to Las Vegas, she worked with a group who was supporting women and children who’d experienced domestic violence. “I realized a lot of children experience domestic violence and it becomes a cycle. Giving them money or things wasn’t going to break the cycle of poverty. It had to start in the classroom.” Following this experience, Sara applied for and was accepted into Teach For America in Washington, D.C. When interviewing at AIM Academy, she shares “I felt secure, it felt like it was a family. I knew if I was going to make it, I needed people that were going to have my back.”
Although only in her second year of teaching, Sara’s growth reflects a depth of learning. “I always tell my students, I’ve grown so much from you. They laugh and say how can that be possible when you’re an adult? I tell them you’re teaching me as much as I’m teaching you!”
Whats a factor to her success? “Oh, definitely my team! Since I work with both the 7th and 8th graders, I’m blessed to have many mentors that I can go to with any question without judgment. I have mentors that have been teaching for 15 years.” As a special education teacher, Sara also learned a great deal from the AIM Academy’s dean of instruction, Ms. Defino. During the first few months in the classroom, Ms. Defino helped to share the ins and outs of IEPs, special education, and modifications. Sara explains, “Students are often looked over, so much of my success with them comes directly from my work with Donna. By November I was able to lead my own IEP meetings and started having students advocate for themselves by attending their meetings. I taught them about what an IEP is and why they have it, framing it in a positive way.”
As for what keeps Sara invested in students and passionate about teaching, it really comes down to student growth. One story especially sticks out. She had an extremely bright student whose academics suffered due to factors outside of the classroom. Sara’s support, coupled with the student’s hard work and dedication, led her to be promoted from AIM Academy to KIPP DC College Preparatory and re-enter the general education setting. “She came back and visited AIM this year just to let me know she was re-entering! I was ecstatic. I’ve witnessed her move from a small group setting, where she grew so much, to re-joining her peers. It was such a great feeling to have her to say ‘I’m in this class now and it’s because of you’.”
Sara’s advice for anyone interested in working at KIPP DC, “All of the hard work you put in as an educator really becomes worth it when that student graduates from high school or is promoted to the next grade. The end result will always outweigh the work you put in.”
Ready to encourage self-advocacy, academic, and personal growth for all students? Explore special education opportunities at KIPP DC and apply today.