KIPP St. Louis

Dale Singer/St. Louis Public Radio

Rodney Norman grew up in the St. Louis neighborhood near Mitchell School, though he didn’t go there, and he knows what the closure of the school did to the area near Page and Goodfellow boulevards.

Now, say Norman and his wife, Juanita, they know what the reopening of the building, as the KIPP Victory Academy for 200 students in kindergarten and first grade, will mean when classes begin next month.

Dale Singer/St. Louis Public Radio

The charter school operator is opening a new location for kindergarten and first grade in north St. Louis this fall and plans to have six schools in St. Louis five years from now.

On her cell phone, Tiara Abu has a short video showing her and 5-year-old Jawon, sitting on his bed, giving a cheer and doing their best version of jazz hands.

What was the occasion?

“He had just counted to 100 for me,” explained Abu, adding: I hadn’t asked him to.”

(via Google Maps screen capture)

In 2009, KIPP Inspire Academy opened its doors in St. Louis. Since then, the charter school has grown from a single class of 80 5th graders to a school of 330 students in grades 5th through 8th, many of them behind by two years in reading and math.

St. Louis Public Radio's Julie Bierach recently spoke with KIPP's Executive Director Kelly Garrett about the school's education model that puts just as much emphasis on character as it does on reading and writing.