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Date: 2018-03-30

KIPP Selects Miami Natives Leyla Bravo, Kayla Johnson and Monica Kress to Launch Its First School in South Florida

New Hires Bring Over 10 Years of Education and Leadership Experience

MIAMI, FL.  (March 30, 2018) – KIPP, a national non-profit network of charter schools with a successful track record of educating elementary, middle, and high school students, has announced that KIPP Miami’s founding school will be led by Miami natives and educators with extensive teaching and school management experience. KIPP has hired Leyla Bravo as principal and Kayla Johnson as assistant principal of KIPP Sunrise Academy, KIPP Miami’s first school set to launch in Liberty City in August 2018. Monica Kress has been selected as managing director of operations for the KIPP Miami region.

Leyla is a veteran KIPP educator with more than a decade of experience in KIPP’s groundbreaking approach to character development. As KIPP Sunrise’s principal, she will lead its overall educational strategy and staff professional development efforts. Leyla is a visionary educator, who began her career in New York City’s public school system before transitioning to KIPP. There she spent nearly a decade as a teacher and assistant principal at Harlem-based KIPP Infinity, one of NYC’s highest-performing middle schools. Born in Nicaragua, Leyla immigrated to Miami with her family as a child, where she attended Miami-Dade County Public Schools and graduated from Harvard University with a degree in government.

Liberty City native, Kayla Johnson began her career in education as a middle school reading teacher and grade team leader in Miami, Florida. Her focus has always been on mentoring students for future success, which led her to Chicago to work as an advisor and instructional coach. She then ventured to Philadelphia where she was a manager of teacher leadership development at Teach For America before joining KIPP New Jersey as an Assistant Principal. Throughout her career, Kayla has designed and facilitated diversity, equity, and inclusiveness experiences for regional staff and new educators. At KIPP Sunrise, she will serve as assistant principal, supporting in establishing and maintaining an effective learning climate for students. Kayla received dual degrees in English and Criminology with a minor in Education from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum with a specialization in Data, Evaluation, and Assessment from Drexel University.

As KIPP Miami’s managing director of regional operations, Monica Kress will be responsible for supervision of all non-instructional aspects of Sunrise Academy, future schools in the region and their non-instructional staff. She will support KIPP’s newest formed region by laying the groundwork for future schools through partnerships with prominent community organizations and local leaders. Monica is originally from Miami and brings more than five years of experience from KIPP NJ, where she set a high standard of excellence for operations not only on her campus, but across area schools by establishing shared collaboration tools. Before joining KIPP, Monica served as director of professional development at Teach For America – New York where she designed and delivered source learning experiences and resources for new teachers. Monica has always been passionate about education, having started her career as a high school biology and chemistry educator and earning her graduate degree from Pace University, while teaching.

“We are excited to have Leyla, Kayla and Monica bring their expertise and commitment for youth to the South Florida community to help us launch KIPP Miami’s first school,” said Bill Diggs, KIPP Miami Board Chair. “All are strong leaders with a proven record of working tirelessly to ensure students and school staff feel empowered to grow and reach their maximum potential.”

KIPP Sunrise Academy will bring a new model and education alternative to Miami, adding a non-profit charter school to the urban core, backed by a unique partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools that will offer leadership development and curriculum resources to District teachers.

At the start, KIPP Sunrise Academy will educate approximately 200 students in grades K-1 and be co-located at Poinciana Elementary School.


About KIPP Miami: KIPP Miami is part of the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) national non-profit network of college preparatory public charter schools serving elementary, middle and high school students. KIPP has a 20-year track record of preparing students for success in college and life. Founded in 2018, KIPP Miami will operate its first non-profit charter school in Miami’s Liberty City neighbor. KIPP Miami is proud to partner with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Urban League’s We Rise Liberty City Initiative to bring additional education options to the Liberty City neighborhood.

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