Original post can be found here: Teacher Spotlight: Tienne Martin, KIPP North Philadelphia Academy

At KIPP, we believe that knowledge is power. These words not only make up the acronym in our name, but more importantly, it emphasizes the transformational experience a high-quality education can provide for our youth and the world-at large. For our students, the power of knowledge is demonstrated when they walk across the stage to receive their college degrees; or when they showcase their musical, athletic, or inventive talents for all the world to see, or when they identify a problem in their community and use their leadership abilities to create positive change. For our teachers, the power of knowledge is demonstrated by their ability to engage, invest, and inspire our students to change the world, starting from kindergarten all through the way through college and beyond. For this month’s teacher spotlight, we are thrilled to feature a teacher who has spent the last 15 years inspiring elementary students and placing them on a path towards academic success, and who is now poised to help newer teachers do the same.

Meet Tienne Martin! Tienne Martin is currently a Founding Kindergarten Lead Teacher at KIPP North Philadelphia Academy, and joined the KIPP family in July 2018. Prior to KIPP, Tienne taught for 15 years at charter schools at the elementary level and spent most of that time with Philly’s Independence Charter School. Tienne views herself as a lifelong teacher, student, and leader.

What Tienne enjoys most about teaching is interacting with her students. She says, “It makes me happy. I see their growth. Especially in the primary grades […] some students came in not able to recognize letters. Now they’re starting to read short sentences and books. This drives my passion every year.”
This year, Tienne had the opportunity to work with a Liberty Teaching Fellow in her classroom, “What I love about KIPP is the 2-teacher dynamic in the Kindergarten and first grade classes, to have someone to build ideas off of. I’m excited to see the growth of the teaching fellows.”

In the classroom, Tienne cultivates a special space where “students feel safe, advocate for themselves, have a voice, an identity, and feel affirmed.” Her teaching style embodies KIPP’s core value of effective communication, and she makes sure students know “their voices matter, and their voices are heard.” She teaches students to listen to and value their own voice and the voices of others. With these skills “students share how they feel, articulate their thoughts clearly, and are understood and heard.”

Tienne is also a student herself — a student of her craft as an educator, but also one who desires to grow as a leader. She is working toward completing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership over the next few months. In the future, she plans to lead students and staff in a school setting through higher administration roles. She appreciates the emphasis KIPP has on “growth mindset” which allows teachers and staff to express their goals and be given the necessary tools to achieve them. For some, those goals focus solely on student achievement, for others — like Tienne — it also involves a path towards administrative leadership. Tienne believes that a leadership position would give her the opportunity to use her 15 years’ worth of classroom experience to help support newer teachers and set out a broader vision of excellence for the entire school. Fortunately, Tienne has found opportunities to learn at KIPP Philly in addition to her work on her Master’s degree. She credits current KIPP North Principal, Ben Speicher, for generously taking the time to provide support, guidance, shadowing opportunities, and insights to guide her toward her next milestones.

Just as much as we enjoy investing in our KIPPsters and cheering them on as they continue to learn, grow, and accomplish their goals, we hold the same passion for the teachers and leaders who educate and inspire them — teachers like Tienne Martin.