THE BLOG
05/20/2014 04:25 pm ET Updated Jul 20, 2014

Humble Beginnings

I have never even met them. Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin are their names.

When I am asked about my school, it is automatic for me to say, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me." Usually, students are not very pleased by their school and think negatively of it, but not I.

I did not have any idea what I was getting myself into with KIPP as a timid fifth grader. After registration, my future coterie of students and I had to sit on the floor in a hot, sweat-filled gymnasium. Our KIPP teachers wanted us to know that we must earn everything, even a seat in a classroom. This was something that I could not understand. What school forces you to want to earn your own education? "It is not that serious," I thought to myself a plethora of times, but as I matured and attended the high school as well, I understood just how serious this was.

Although I attend Newark Collegiate Academy, my roots lie within TEAM Academy, the KIPP subset within the larger school. The school name stands for, "Together Everyone Achieves More," and we take that literally. While it does sound cliché, it is the honest truth, which is why I look for schools with an intimate atmosphere. My successes in life thus far are attributed to my homes. I believe that I am a well-rounded person, because TEAM was an extension from my original home. My parents always taught me that excellent grades did not matter if you had a poor attitude. Apparently TEAM believed the same because on every assignment, we had to write, "Work Hard. Be Nice," and were judged by Kohlberg's stages of moral development.

By the time I commenced to high school, I knew how blessed I was. Besides the annual class trips to Utah, California, etc., it was obvious that I was in the right place at the right time. The ten hour school day and remorseless homework assignments paid off. It was not easy, but what kept me going was the fact that I was a part of a team, I was a part of something that was extraordinary. Now I ask, "What school do you know does this?" with joy and appreciation. I began to realize how I should take advantage of all of my opportunities, because not even my elementary school friends get this treatment. The surrounding schools can care less about their education; forget about a moral code! These thoughts have stayed in the back of my mind, because I get a constant reminder of why I must work hard when I step out of school. As my principal says, "Don't let it happen! Make it happen!" With this said, my homes have given me the confidence to create the life that I want.

My schooling for the last seven years has been a humbling and enlightening experience for me. I have never even met them, but if it were not for the vision of these two men who founded the Knowledge is Power Program, I would not be here to tell you this story.

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