Meet Ms. Katie Raz / Lead Art Teacher / KIPP DC Promise Academy
Take a quick scan of the third floor of KIPP DC’s Benning Campus, and it’s not hard to spot the art room at Promise. The bright decorations and student artwork that hang proudly on the door mirror the aesthetics inside. Its vibrancy is only matched by the energy and enthusiasm of Katie Raz, her students and the passion she has for celebrating their achievements.
“I look at my studio as a place that celebrates the joy of what makes an elementary school an elementary school. My mission is to help them celebrate the joy of learning, and also give them space where they have the tools they need to create and express themselves.”
Ms. Raz joined KIPP DC in 2013 after graduating from DePauw University with her degree in Art History and spending time with Teacher For America as a lead teacher in Baltimore. In her time at KIPP DC Promise Academy, she has become adept at finding ways to use art as a vehicle to reinforce the lessons students have learned throughout the day.
“It’s things such as having students make a butterfly cut-out in class, but then connecting the dots back to Science and having them research the colors of a butterfly in the rain-forest and identify them as they are coloring in. It’s little things like that help show them that everything they’re learning matters.”
What’s most apparent when you look at the impact of Ms. Raz on Promise Academy’s school community is the personal, meaningful connections she has forged with her students and colleagues. Fellow teacher’s regularly pop in to say hello and students rush to give her a hug or high-five before talking to her about their day. Students thrive in environments when they feel supported and valued, and her ability to help foster that type of environment at Promise Academy is part of the reason they were recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2018.
“I see what I do as so much more than art and recognize how important it is that our students feel validated and successful. At the end of the day knowing there are kids that were in my class that are now freshmen at KIPP DC College Preparatory and will go on to do amazing things is special to me.”
Ms. Raz’s classroom, like many others that were once filled with students, will be empty as students and staff enjoy their summer break. Yet, the artwork on the walls will remain; a reminder of one teacher’s pride in the success of her scholars, and a testament to her tireless work in helping nurture, guide, and prepare the next generation of leaders for success.