Papo Morales stands on the patio just south of the Mudd Library.
Papo Morales ’21 works with Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

History major and art and Latin American studies minor Papo Morales ’21 dreams of becoming a teacher. He got one step closer to that dream through a recent internship at KIPP NYC.

KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) is a nonprofit network of charter schools committed to training outstanding educators and helping students develop skills to succeed in college and beyond. KIPP serves 28 regions throughout the United States.

During his first two weeks at KIPP NYC, Morales worked in the legal department, which meant reading over tax plans and making sure everything complied with New York state laws. He then moved to the People Team, where he recruited teachers and helped with teacher certification. In the last leg of his internship, he advised high school students on the college process with KIPP Through College.

A chance to explore

Morales had an immediate connection with his work. As the Equal Access to Education Programs coordinator at Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE), he’s no stranger to the administrative side of education. He’s also a charter school child from Brooklyn himself.

“The great thing was I got to do a bunch of different things,” he said. “Even though it wasn’t in the classroom, I got to learn a lot about what makes a charter school network run, and being a charter school student, it was a completely different perspective.”

Morales was able to apply his experience at KIPP to his work at the CCE, particularly when it came to making changes to the VITAL program, Lawrence’s free tutoring program that pairs tutors with students in the Appleton area school district based on subject area.

“A lot of the things I learned at KIPP I brought back here, and helped change my program. I overhauled it over the summer while I was there because I learned a lot. They gave me tons of feedback about academic support.”

A promising partnership

The summer internship wasn’t Morales’s first time working with KIPP. In the preceding winter, he stepped into the classroom for the first time as a teaching fellow at KIPP Academy in Lynn, Massachusetts. He speaks highly of both KIPP experiences.

“My favorite part has to do with the passion it helped me discover,” he said. “While my experiences were just weeks long, it helped me realize what I really wanted to do. During my time there I also just got to network, which I think Lawrence students benefit greatly from. I was working with other professionals. I was in a space where I felt validated, like a working individual.”

Now that Morales has built on his passion, it’s clear he’s going to stick by it. He plans to continue his relationship with KIPP with another teaching fellowship in the winter, where he will teach middle school students in Minnesota. By February, he hopes to apply to Teach for America, an organization that promotes equal access to education by recruiting college graduates to teach for two years in low-income communities.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.