by Michelle Wirth
KIPP WAYS Academy experienced a smooth start to the 2017-2018 school year. School Leader Dwight Ho Sang says the time that he and fellow administrators spent at Relay in Colorado paid off. Relay provides training, coaching and education for teachers and leaders. Ho Sang spent two weeks in Colorado and his assistant principals each spent one week there as part of a year-long certificate course (School Leader Dwight Ho Sang is pictured below with Ra’Chel Ford, Director of Campus Operations, KIPP WAYS Campus).
Ho Sang says prior to the start of the school year, KIPP WAYS Academy spent a great deal of time practicing school wide routines like dismissal and arrival, particularly with new teachers. The role-play exercises included the addition of distracted students so educators could gain skills to assist throughout the school day. It’s just one of the strategies school administrators brought back from their training at Relay.
“The school is definitely calm,” says Ho Sang. “You practice perfect first and then you add in small levels of difficulty so teachers can see how it feels and then practice moves so teachers can get kids back on track.”
The school also added a large number of new Chromebooks to the classroom this year. Thanks to a grant the school as part of its selection as Georgia Charter School of the Year, KIPP WAYS Academy was able to purchase more than 90 Chromebooks and computer software. The school won the title and the grant at the 2017 Georgia Charter Schools Conference. The grant, which was sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company, enabled the school to launch its 1:1 technology program and blended learning curriculum.
“Our 1:1 technology program means that every scholar in the middle school has a Chromebook in each of their classrooms,” says Ho Sang. “In conjunction with each teacher’s instruction, the Chromebooks and software allow KIPP WAYS Academy to create a personalized, college-preparatory learning environment that helps scholars close any gaps they may have in key content areas. Furthermore, it enables scholars to increase their familiarity with technology by providing access to Chromebooks on a consistent basis for classwork.”
Ho Sang has a large list of goals for the school year, but one of the large ones is to maintain a strong and consistent school culture. He also says the school plans to constantly monitor and react to student data, so they can give students assistance in the areas where they need them most.
“We want to make sure students are ready to take on any challenge when they leave here,” says Ho Sang. “That’s why character and academics are so important.”
Ho Sang is the first four-year college graduate in his family and an alumnus of Teach For America. He started his Atlanta teaching career at Dunbar Elementary. In 2005, he became an educator at KIPP WAYS Academy. While working with KIPP, Ho Sang completed the Teacher Leader and Leadership Team training programs and served as both the Lower School Dean and the Dean of Instruction at KIPP WAYS Academy. He briefly left to take a job as a KIPP principal in Memphis and then returned to KIPP WAYS Academy, where he’s spent the majority of his career in education.
As a child, Ho Sang says he always excelled in school. However, he says he realized he was not prepared academically after he was accepted into a competitive program in New York to prepare seventh grade students for boarding school. That’s what gives Ho Sang the heart and passion to work with students on a daily basis.
“I know it’s important for me to teach black students. There are too many factors from what’s in the curriculum, to environment, to institutionalized racism that puts them at a disadvantage,” says Ho Sang. I’m here to fight that…A lot of our students want to make change in society. We want them to see themselves as part of a greater good in creating an environment where everyone has equal opportunities and are on an equal playing field. I wouldn’t do anything else.”
Ho Sang says he’s fully invested in KIPP WAYS Academy and the Atlanta community.