Meet Ms. Jannette Alston /7th Grade Science Lead Teacher / KIPP DC KEY Academy
KIPP DC KEY Academy resides in Washington D.C.’s Ward 7, a community Jannette Alston has called home since her school days. As a biology major and educational studies minor at Swathmore College, the urge to give back to her local community while pursuing a lifelong passion in science led to her joining KIPP DC three years ago.
“I love science! My mom would always take my sister and I to different science museums. I loved Bill Nye as a kid and the way he approached science. It made me realize you can have fun with it, and I try and bring that to my classroom. I’m also the type of person that loves giving back. Through college, I learned more about educational inequity, and I wanted to come back to my community, teach kids, and give back.”
Like most recent college graduates, she admits to still growing personally and professionally upon joining KIPP DC, but credits the culture and support at KEY with helping her mature as an educator.
“KIPP DC is always pushing people to be better, and that’s what I love the most. I was 21 when I started here and there was a lot I didn’t know. But there are people giving me feedback. I have a content coach who works closely with me. I’m always getting feedback to get better.”
In a short time Jannette has grown exponentially through her own natural talents and the support of the KIPP DC team and family. She currently in a leadership position where she’s tasked with training new teachers and leading professional development sessions. She’s also re-writes assessments for students and was named grade level chair.
“Those are all things I didn’t anticipate when I came here, but there are always opportunities here to push yourself and be better.”
As an organization, KIPP DC has committed to getting better and adopting a more trauma-informed approach to education, something that Jannette says is critical to creating meaningful learning experiences inside the classroom.
“What we do is hard work. The kids we support have things they struggle with outside of the classroom. Understanding that their behavior may be a reflection of something deeper going on is important and the push towards a more trauma-informed approach has helped me understand my students better and have a more informed perspective.”
Through that lens, Jannette crafts lessons that are both unique and engaging, building excitement within her students for what’s to come next.
“What’s nice about our science curriculum is that its active investigation and I think that has been really great for kids. They actually get to practice like scientists. They’re collecting data, making observations, and they’ve been immersed in it since day one. I think that gives them some curiosity towards the next day.”
Reflecting on her start three years ago to now, established as both a lead teacher and leader at KEY Academy, she maintains that the sense of community at KIPP DC is what makes being an educator here special.
“Everyone’s on the page. Everyone is here for the same reason and that’s wanting to see our students succeed. You’re going to do what you can to make that happen. There are kids that have gone to a KIPP DC school almost their entire lives and that’s really nice that they have that consistency of knowing the people around me, that people care, and come together around them. It just really feels like a close-knit community.”