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New Principal Feature

October 22, 2021
By admin

MEET OUR NEW PRINICPALS

STRIVE Prep principals not only inspire, but they empower every single one of our students to be the best version of themselves every day. From late nights to early mornings, they work endlessly to make sure students receive top tier education that meets them where they are and pushes them to their full potential. We are proud to get to feature three new principals who are the embodiment of STRIVE Prep and we are so lucky to have them as our school leaders. Take a moment and get to know them a little better! 

Kelly Gomes - Principal at STRIVE Prep - Sunnyside

Q: Who are you and what have you done? Tell us about yourself and your career thus far!

A: My name is Kelly Gomes. I started my career as a high school ELA teacher in a traditional public school in Dallas, Texas when I joined Teach for America. I taught in Dallas, grades 9-11, for three years. Next, I founded a 7th grade class as an ELA teacher in New York City. I taught 7th/8th grade ELA for three years before moving to an assistant principal role. I was an assistant principal at Democracy Prep Endurance, a charter school in New York City, for four years. In 2020, I moved to STRIVE Prep - Sunnyside as an assistant principal of instruction and in 2021, I moved to the principal position at STRIVE Prep - Sunnyside.

 Q: Why STRIVE Prep?

A: STRIVE Prep has done an immense amount of reflection and work around what it means to be an anti-racist organization -- acknowledging their wrongs and taking intentional steps to move forward in a new direction. The organization balances school autonomy, leader choice, and central support. Lastly, STRIVE Prep puts children at the forefront of their choices. 

Q: What do you value most in education/teaching?

A: I most value hearing student voices and helping to open new doors of opportunity and choice. Children have the ability to change the future and I love supporting students to see how they can make their voices heard to change the world. 

Q: Who has helped shape who you are today and who you want to become?

A: My family, a few educators from childhood, and lifelong friends have helped shape me into the person I am today. I choose to surround myself with people who challenge me and support me. The folks who have made the greatest influence in my life have been those who have loved me unconditionally and have not been afraid to give me critical feedback along the way. 

Q: What excites you the most about this year?

A: What excites me most about this year is the unique opportunity we have to re-write what the new normal can look like. As educators, we are in a position to truly transform school culture, academics and social-emotional learning.  Students deserve educators who are ready to take on the challenge of using this time to rethink school norms and values and I am excited to be part of this intentional movement. 

Q: When not at school, what do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?

A: When I am not at school, I spend a lot of time with my partner, two kids and extended family. We love to go to new parks, mini vacations, and explore new places. I also love to hang out with my dog. No matter what we are doing, if I am with my family, dog, or close friends, we will have a great time laughing and exploring. 

Q: Would you rather have a time machine (travel through time periods) or a teleporter (travel between specific places)? Why?

A: I would rather be a teleporter because I have so many places I want to travel to and friends across the world, I would love to be able to snap my fingers and be there. Driving and flying can be exhausting and time is of the essence.

 

Jay Gordon - Principal at STRIVE Prep - Montbello

Q: Who are you and what have you done? Tell us about yourself and your career thus far!
A: I have spent most of my tenure in education working in the charter school systems in some of the most challenging school districts in the U.S. - Baltimore, St. Louis, and Chicago. For the past 21  years, I have worked in urban education as an instructor, lead teacher, administrator, and at the network level. Following college, I completed a year of service teaching 3rd grade in southwest Baltimore. I recently completed my Master of Education in Education Leadership and Organization Entrepreneurship. 

Q: What do you value most in education/teaching?
A:  I am passionate about empowering students to succeed. As a school leader, I use all tools available to inspire staff, students, and the community to promote student achievement and well-being.

I am an avid supporter of effective and innovative professional development that encourages teachers and school leaders to be reflective and continuously examine our practice to provide quality teaching and learning for each student. My role as a school leader is to keep up with the latest trends and research and be an active partner in the school's professional development.

The ability to be innovative and creative is essential to me. I enjoy being challenged and inspired by the people around me. I aim to enthuse and challenge staff and students to be inventive and imaginative in their learning and day-to-day tasks.

I believe that having quality, inspirational and passionate teachers is essential to a school's success. To borrow education leader John Hattie's words, "Teachers should build classroom climates where errors are welcome, student engagement is the norm, questioning is high, and students gain reputations as effective learners."

I enjoy celebrating successes and acknowledge the hard work of staff, students, and community and believe this is one of the contributors that is  fundamental to a happy school environment. All staff, students, and the community members  should feel valued and appreciated at school. I regularly consult with my community as part of school self-review and encourage community engagement in the curriculum and learning programs.

Q: Who has helped shape who you are today and who you want to become?

A: I don't think that it's been a person who has shaped me into the person I am today.  I believe my life experiences are at the central core of who I have developed into. 

Q: What excites you the most about this year?

A: I am excited about our social-emotional learning curriculum that we offer our students and what it will do for the relationship building in our school. I am excited about our students having choice electives and most excited about the interventions that we have for all our students as we attempt to close the achievement gap.

Q: When not at school, what do you do for fun? What are your hobbies? 

A: I am a homebody.  On my time off, I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and children.

Q: Would you rather have a time machine (travel through time periods) or a teleporter (travel between specific places)? Why?

A: I believe that there is no better place than the present. The present is where we can celebrate our past accomplishments or give support for healing. The present is the place where we prepare to make our future bright.

Daniel Vivas - Principal at STRIVE Prep - SMART

Q: Who are you and what have you done? Tell us about yourself and your career thus far!

A: I have been in education for the entirety of my adult life. This year marks my 14th year working in education and my second at STRIVE Prep. I’ve worked all over the United States including Miami, New York City, Prince George’s County, Washington DC, Oakland, and now Denver. 

Q: Why STRIVE Prep?

A: I chose to work here because of the stance the network took when it came to anti-racism and critical race theory. I believe that progress starts with taking a stand that you can be held accountable too. 

Q: What do you value most in education/teaching?

A: The most important thing to me is ensuring that folks learn how to ask critical questions. Learning how to ask questions makes you capable of learning on your own. Independence and critical thinking are vital to individual and collective success. 

Q: Who has helped shape who you are today and who you want to become?

A: There have been many people who have shaped me. My entire family played a role in making me who I am today. I’d also say my college professor, John Riofrio, helped me open my eyes to what I could be. 

Q: What excites you the most about this year?

A: Being in-person again!

Q: When not at school, what do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?

A: When not at school, you’ll either find me at home with Maureen and our two dogs somewhere in the mountains hiking or snowboarding, or coaching Muay Thai at Easton Martial Arts academy in Arvada. 

Q: Would you rather have a time machine (travel through time periods) or a teleporter (travel between specific places)? Why?

A: I’ll take the teleporter. I’d save tons of money on plane tickets and I can live anywhere with zero commute to work. 

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