Team and Family Spotlight - October 2018


Did you have an “Aha!” moment when you realized you were enjoying something and could make a career out of it? KIPP North Star Academy science teacher Julie Bender did. It involved a lightbulb, a glass bowl, and her brother, who at that time, was recently adopted from Russia. He was struggling to understand the greenhouse effect. His English was at an intermediate level and learning environmental science in a second language was as difficult as you can imagine. One afternoon, while helping her brother with his homework, Ms. Bender was trying to explain the greenhouse effect with her makeshift science model and realized, despite her brother not yet being able to grasp the idea, that she loved teaching.

After attending Bowdoin College for her undergraduate degree, Ms. Bender moved to Minneapolis to do Teach For America and fell in love with the Twin Cities. She has been teaching science for six years and this is her fourth year at KIPP. Her love for teaching, and for her students, is obvious in the classroom. Ms. Bender is attentive and warm, while maintaining order and focus. She is committed to teaching her students but she says that they aren’t the only ones learning - she learns alongside them every day.

Ms. Bender’s passion meets a purpose at KIPP Minnesota. Last year her 8th grade students grew at a rate 2.6 times higher than typical growth between the fall and spring Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. Her students started the year with grade-level science skills (48th percentile average) and ended the year at the 59th percentile on average, much closer to the college-ready performance level we seek. Ms. Bender has shown an unwavering dedication to her students and commitment to excellence at KIPP Minnesota and we are so grateful to have her on our team.


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