We are proud to announce that Kia Prude, who has been a founding team member with Smilow Collegiate and this year served as an assistant principal, has been promoted to principal. Kia sat down with our communications lead Megan Cole to share a bit more about herself and why she is excited to take on this role.
Congratulations on this exciting promotion! While this is a new role for you, you’ve had many different experiences during your career. Tell me more about your professional experiences before RePublic?
Prior to joining the RePublic family, I had a mixture of professional experiences, each of which has taught me an important and valuable lesson. While attending Fisk University for undergrad, I took an elective course in education. I immediately fell in love with working and serving my community through teaching. When I went back to my hometown of Baltimore, I began working as a residential counselor for serving children with additional needs. While in that role, I noticed how the children would come from school upset and triggered because they felt as though they were being judged and misunderstood by their teachers. This inspired me to begin my journey in schools. I always knew that I wanted to lead a school and wanted to experience every educational role, so that when I did become a principal, I would be able to support, develop and empower my team through their specific role.
After leaving this role, I transitioned to be paraprofessional at an elementary school in Antioch, Tennessee and eventually to a role as a special education teacher at a high school in Columbus, Mississippi. Through both of those roles, I learned how one person can make an impact not only on a scholar’s academic growth, but also their social/emotional well being, all while building authentic relationships with families. I also learned that when dedicated educators work together towards a common goal, anything is possible for your scholars.
After working at City Neighbors, a charter school in Baltimore, I decided to pursue a master’s degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. While in school, I had a year-long student teaching internship at an alternative school. This experience is where I learned the importance of actively listening to your scholars, being your authentic self, being self reflective and establishing authentic and trustworthy relationships with scholars. Upon graduating, I began my second journey with another charter school in Washington, D,C. , Two Rivers Public Charter. My experience at Two Rivers was one where I discovered the importance of “school choice”, as it was founded by a group of parents who wanted a better option for their children and the children in the D.C. metro area. I took a brief break from working to raise my young children in the United States Virgin Islands. When we transitioned back to the United States, we decided to come back to Mississippi to take all of our experiences and ideas to come back and make an impact in this great state.
Wow! It really sounds like you’ve held a number of different school roles. What roles did you have at RePublic before this recent promotion?
When I first joined the RePublic family, I began as a scholar support coordinator at Smilow Collegiate. I was tasked with building a strong scholars supports program that maintained a fully inclusive environment for our scholars. It was important for our families and staff to know that we are a school community that wholeheartedly believes that regardless of a scholar’s ability or disability, all scholars have the ability to learn, we just have to figure out how they learn best. During my first year at Smilow Collegiate, I also supported our English Language Learners. I worked alongside with our SBLT team to provide support in areas that were needed in order to ensure that our founding year was a success. This past year, I was the assistant principal where I had the opportunity to focus and develop more in the instructional content along with managing our kindergarten and first grade teaching teams.
It sounds like you have already had success with RePublic Schools. What is one example of a time when you felt most successful?
There have been many countless times that I have felt successful while at Smilow Collegiate. Being a school leader, oftentimes you feel as though you don’t have as many opportunities to teach scholars. There was a time during this school year where a new first grade scholar was having difficulty with understanding the how and why behind doing number stories, an important component of our math curriculum that helps scholars solve math word problems without hesitation or having only one way to solve a problem. I was able to connect with the scholar, understand the root of their difficulty, and helped them to learn how to solve and complete their number story successfully. The scholar went from really really struggling when they knew number stories was about to begin to actively participating and excited to show their work. Through this experience, I learned the importance of our scholars knowing and internalizing the why and how behind the content that they learn at Smilow Collegiate.
Speaking of whys, why are you most excited to take on this new role?
I am most excited about the opportunity to create even more opportunities for our scholars through project based learning, and continuing to build stronger community partnerships and support with our city, county, and state. Being at Smilow Collegiate, before the doors were officially open to our scholars and families, I have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes on our leadership team. I am excited to have the opportunity to be more front and center so I can build even stronger relationships with my parents and for us to get to know each other.
Finally, thinking of parents and families, what is something you want to tell them directly?
The quality of education, academic, and behavioral growth that you have seen with your scholars while at Smilow Collegiate will continue. I, too, am a parent of a scholar who attends Smilow Collegiate from its first year and I understand the importance of ensuring that your child, our scholar, has a learning environment that they feel safe, nurtured, loved, and able to grow into their own person. We will continue to build stronger family involvement, investment, quality teachers and excellence at Smilow Collegiate.