Teacher Spotlight — January 2022

Meet Mr. Mabayoje Solarin | Fifth & Sixth Grade Math Teacher | KEY Academy

Mr. Mabayoje Solarin is the fifth and sixth-grade special education math teacher at KIPP DC KEY Academy and January’s Teacher Spotlight! Mr. Solarin joined KIPP DC in 2019 as a resident in the Capital Teaching Residency. Before joining KIPP DC, Mr. Solarin, a DMV native, graduated from Howard University, where he studied Health Science, initially aiming to become a physical therapist.

Upon learning that physical therapists couldn’t help patients after their insurance ran out regardless of their progress, he pursued a career in IT after graduating.

“Because of my nature of wanting to help people, I couldn’t see myself working in a system where insurance companies cut people off, and patients are forced to pay out of pocket.”

After a decade of working experience, Solarin decided to pursue a career in teaching. He was still passionate about making a difference in the world and helping people.

“I’m a firm believer in my faith, and I feel like when you’re stagnant, God will make you uncomfortable and move you. I knew that I loved working with younger people and had a way of connecting with them. They tend to gravitate and listen to advice that I give, so I figured why not get into education. I’m good at math, and I enjoy it. I looked on KIPP’s website and saw they had a Capital Teaching Residency position, which is for people who are either fresh out of college or having a career change.”

After earning his master’s degree in education while working through the Capital Teaching Residency, he gained his first class in 2020 teaching special education math at KIPP DC KEY Academy. Since teaching, he has seen great success with his students.

“Seeing that kids in special education are looked at as if they’ll never get it and that their disabilities are going to prevent them from catching up, I wanted to change that narrative. I’ve seen students who come in hating math and then leave my class loving math.”

As a teacher, Solarin is passionate about helping his students reach their goals. He uses his students’ interests to spark their enthusiasm for learning. His willingness to help out his students at any given time is another way he establishes the foundation in his classroom.

“I look at all my students as an extension of my own family. I treat them how I would treat my own son. They call me anytime. Sometimes, I’m on Zoom until 8:30 working with students. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they are successful.”

Aside from working with his students, he also enjoys working with his team learning from their perspectives.

“Everybody brings a different skill set to the team. It’s a good dynamic, and that’s what makes our team strong. Everyone has a different background. Their experience and skill sets come to the table when we have our meetings, and we’re able to work anything out”

His advice to aspiring teachers who are interested in working for KIPP DC? “The work is hard, but it’s worth it. The hard work that you put in is not for nothing. You will see the results. If you’re serious about putting in the work, KIPP is the place where you should be.”

Mr. Solarin is an exceptional teacher who has made a lasting impact on the lives of many of our students at KEY Academy. We couldn’t be more honored to have a teacher that shows much dedication to our community.

Posted on January 21, 2022 in Awards & Recognition