If nothing else - there is a heightened sense of ownership and loss of a prized asset in response to the fire that severely damaged the KIPP Ways Academy school building. The school offers a beacon of hope in a community that is short on points of light to project happiness about.
My heart was saddened when I learned of the Dec. 10 three-alarm fire at KIPP WAYS Academy, a high-achieving public charter school serving mostly underprivileged students and families near the Atlanta University Center and downtown Atlanta. The fire destroyed a significant portion of the KIPP WAYS building as well as the contents inside; books, computers, musical instruments and everything else that makes up a school.
But what the fire could not destroy is the spirit and character of the KIPP WAYS (West Atlanta Young Scholars) family. If anything, the fire has only strengthened the school by further energizing its community, providing an invaluable learning lesson for the children, and showing how a larger community is able to jump into action in a time of need.
KIPP WAYS, along with its sister school, KIPP South Fulton Academy, are in their eighth year of existence. They have been recognized numerous times by local and state leaders as exemplary public schools. These charter schools, built upon KIPP’s national operating principles, known as the “Five Pillars”; High Expectations, Choice & Commitment, More Time, Power to Lead and Focus on Results, are providing children in the Atlanta area with exceptional, rigorous, college preparatory public schools.
Within 48 hours after the fire had gutted their facility, the KIPP WAYS family — administrators, staff, students, family members and supporters — all came together in the former Turner Middle School to prepare the second and third floors of the building for classes the following morning. The first floor is the home of the Kindezi School, an APS charter school in its first year of operations. Kindezi’s board, seeing a community in need, immediately opened their doors to KIPP WAYS.