Meet Ms. McElroy / Kindergarten Lead Teacher / KIPP DC Connect Academy
“My favorite noise is kids’ laughter. I think my favorite thing is their quirky personalities. You can see the personality traits of who they are going to be.”
Originally from Detriot, Michigan, Janai McElroy attended Michigan State and earned an bachelor’s degree in advertising. Throughout her undergraduate experience, her passion for education was manifested through tutoring in local schools with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. Following her senior year, she began a career in advertising, but a sudden tragic event prompted her to consider a change. Janai explains, “I had a friend who died and he was living his life to the fullest. That made me realize I was working in a field that I wasn’t that passionate about, so I just wanted to get into a field where I was, and that was working with children.”
Janai learned about KIPP from a sorority sister who taught at KIPP New Orleans. After observing classrooms and interacting with students during her interview for the Capital Teaching Residency program Janai immediately knew that she wanted to get into the education field at the early childhood level.
She shares that the most powerful part of being a Kindergarten teacher is getting to witness the enormous growth that students undergo. “At first, students aren’t able to identify letters and numbers. After that, they are recognizing words, doing addition and subtraction. Now they are solving word problems, doing fractions. It’s really gratifying!” Not only did Janai notice the growth in her students but most were also able to exceed their goals on the NEA MAP test for math and reading.
When not celebrating their academic achievement, Janai loves engaging each student’s personalities and building relationships with her class. When asked about her favorite thing about her students, she laughs, “My favorite noise is kids’ laughter. I think my favorite thing is their quirky personalities. You can see the personality traits of who they are going to be.”
As a resident teacher moving into her first year of lead teaching, Janai explains that her team was a huge factor in her success. “My favorite thing about my colleagues is the family feel. I can say that the staff here are both friends and mentors.” In working with her team at Connect Academy, she also adds that there is a great balance between structure, support, and autonomy. “We were able to implement clubs. We’ve had ballet, soccer, and international night. I really appreciate that lesson plans are given to us, but we have flexibility and creativity outside of the classroom.”
Her advice for teachers and leaders potentially looking to join our team + family? “It’s a place where you can have personal and professional growth. KIPP DC recognizes its hardest working teachers, so if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be bound for success.”