Memphis KIPP teacher wins award, $10,000

Criollo is second Memphis winner in 2 years

KIPP Memphis Academy Middle - Elizabeth Hoard Photography (296 of 356).JPG

By Jane Roberts

Andrea Criollo, a sixth-grade teacher at KIPP Memphis Academy Middle School, received the Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award in front of about 13,000 people late Thursday attending KIPP’s annual meeting in Houston.

She is the second teacher in two years from the academy to receive the highest award KIPP gives its teachers. It includes a $10,000 prize.

“When you watch her, there is palpable energy in her teaching and amazing evidence of her strong relationship to students,” said principal Andy Bobowski.

“The kids are smiling. She is masterful at building relationships with all the kids and advocating for them in every sense of the word, pushing them academically and promoting them emotionally. Whatever it is, she has found a way to connect to 11- and 12-year-olds. It’s part of her repertoire now,” he said.

Criollo, 27, has worked for KIPP here six years. She began teaching as a Teach for America corps member. In 2012, she was one of the founding faculty members of KIPP Academy, located in the former Cypress Middle School at 2109 Howell.

Every year since 2010, her 6th-grade English and language arts students have exceeded the state standards for reading. This year, she will also lead the school’s ELA department. She also runs the department’s professional development and schoolwide student recognition programs.

Last year, Jane Grimes, 32, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, also won the award.

“Jane brings an urgency to her work every day, no matter what. She’s committed to her work every day, no matter what,” Bobowski said. “She is also remarkably humble.”

The award is named for the teacher and mentor who inspired Teach for America corps members Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin with the way she used chants and movement to engage students. The two founded KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) in Houston in 1994. Since then, the charter network has grown to serve more than 58,000 students in 20 states.

This year, KIPP presented the award to 11 teachers.

Molly Wallace