Meet Ms. Deja Acree | Second Grade Lead Teacher | KIPP DC Promise Academy
Ms. Deja Acree is a second-grade lead teacher at KIPP DC Promise Academy and May’s Teacher Spotlight! After graduating from Salisbury University in Maryland with a degree in sociology, Ms. Acree began working as a dedicated aide for students with Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) that required extra support in the classroom. Loving the experience, Ms. Acree decided to apply for the Capital Teaching Residency (CTR) the following year. In the two years since she graduated from CTR, Ms. Acree has come to deeply love her position as a lead teacher in her second-grade classroom.
“I was the student that used to give my teacher a hard time; now that I am the teacher, I always dive deeper to figure out what’s holding a student back and why.”
The ability to see the bigger picture and work through problems with her students is bolstered by the indelible support Ms. Acree receives in her school community. “I love working at Promise Academy. The culture is like a family that I appreciate so much.” She often credits principal Hardin-Simmons for cultivating this work-family by ensuring everyone has the tools necessary to go above and beyond.
“It was always we, it was never like, you need to make it work. It’s always like, we’re gonna make it work.” KIPP DC’s Capital Teaching Residency is a preparatory program that refines and shapes high-quality educators by gradually increasing the responsibilities of a teacher. After the successful completion of their Resident year, the recipient earns their teaching license. Building relationships with her students is a vital piece of Ms. Acree’s teaching, as she continues to look for new ways to help students learn.
“Every day, I ask my class to start a drumroll before I list off those who received 100% in a subject. They shout out ‘good job’ and ‘congratulations’ while clapping for one another.”
This daily celebration is just a glimpse at the culture Ms. Acree has cultivated within her classroom. It is of utmost importance that students feel acknowledged, welcomed, and uplifted. As well as knowing that the classroom is a place Ms. Acree is still learning as well!
“I have brilliant children that think of the most random, logical ideas that I’ve never heard of. I don’t pretend to know the answer either and that’s a consistent lesson I weave into all my classes – I’m still trying to learn and my students should do the same.”
Ms. Acree is currently working on her master’s focused on mental health and wellness, with an emphasis on family dynamics. Her goal is to work more closely with students who need extra support, especially since the effects of the pandemic will be more clearly seen when students return to school full time.
“I really love my kids – truly, deeply love them.”