“In life, there are always challenges,” says Daniel, a 6th grader at KIPP AMP in Brooklyn. “When it comes to KIPP, coming through those challenges is always fun and there’s always something positive at the end.” Right now, the challenge for Daniel, and his brother Alex, a 3rd grader at KIPP AMP, is learning how to navigate learning at home.

Daniel knows that remote learning takes more than just a strong internet connection, it’s still all about the strong personal connection with his teachers. “I miss being with my teachers because they’ve impacted me in such a positive way,” he says. “If you don’t have anyone supporting you you’re going to feel lonely. Connections are important whether you’re starting a business or playing a sport.”

“The work KIPP has done over the years — you can really see it pay off now,” says Daniel’s mother, Maria. “The foundation that KIPP has given him ever since he started in kindergarten has been so strong. He’s independent, he doesn’t complain, he does his work when it needs to be done even though being at home is completely different,” she says.

“Those connections and that love is so very important in creating a school culture,” says Principal Antoine Lewis. “Our goal is to shower our students and their families with endless love and support during these challenging times, not just because of this particular moment, but because that’s who we are as a school.”

“As far as a daily schedule, we try to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for our kids,” says Principal Lewis. “We still run our Pride Circles with staff, students, and families every Wednesday and Friday and we always find ways to celebrate our students. We also have daily check-ins with students and families through advisories. We just miss every one of our KIPPsters, so we look for every opportunity to connect with them and their families,” Lewis explains.

To start the day, Daniel is up and has his teeth brushed by 7:45 and then organizes the tasks he sees assigned to him on Google Classroom. He makes sure he gives himself enough time to complete his work and still have time at the end of the day to connect with his friends and play video games.

“Today I started off by doing my ELA work,” he says, noting that he likes to start with reading and writing first before heading into math and science. “Right now, we are reading ’The Giver’ by Lois Lowery and the assignment today was to read a certain chapter and then answer questions about that chapter.”

Moving on to math, Daniel had to take a break when he got stuck, but came back to it with a clear head… and a little help. “For math today I had a bit of a challenge,” he explains. “Right now we’re learning about probability and I had to call my teacher for the independent practice, but once he explained it to me I knew how to figure the rest of it out.”

For science, Daniel enjoyed the way he’s connecting with his lab partner (who is also his video game buddy.) “In science we’re doing this project where we have to work with a partner on vocabulary words, like different names for clouds that are posted on Google Classroom.” Daniel also enjoys the interactions he has in government class. “Right now, we’re reading and sharing what’s happening in the news and the epidemic,” he says. “But my teacher is trying to make sure that we read other news that isn’t about the virus.”

Daniel says all the work he’s doing is helping him achieve his various career goals of either being a baseball player, a business owner/investor, or a saxophone player. While he can’t practice with the KIPP AMP Legacy Jazz Ensemble at home, he is keeping his skills sharp by playing his sax, and listening to the greats. “For music class I get assignments that require listening and analyzing music, or the assignment could be researching different musicians who have impacted the language of jazz,” he says. “Today’s assignment was fun. I had to listen to a tune and write about it. Today it was ‘Goodbye Pork-pie Hat’ by Charles Mingus; he wrote it about Lester young who had died two months before and he wanted to put his emotions into the tune.”

If sports or music don’t work out, Daniel’s love of math should carry him far.  “What I like about being an investor is that I like thinking about why you would buy stock from this company or that company and all the reasoning behind that. I like the math and the statistics of it.” As far as meeting the challenge of learning and growing during this pandemic… we like his odds.