9th Grade Algebra I, People’s Preparatory Charter School Newark, NJ
Though he once aspired to be an accountant, Keith Robinson found his passion for teaching in Harlem, where he taught for four years through Teach For America before moving to Newark, NJ. When he joined People’s Preparatory Charter School in 2011, the high school still lacked a building and students. As the school’s founding algebra teacher and one of its leaders, Keith got to work creating a rigorous algebra curriculum to help incoming students meet college-readiness standards.
By the end of his first year at People’s Prep, Keith saw success. Only 32 percent of his students scored in the bottom quartile nationally on the ACT Explore test, down from 50 percent at the beginning of the year. Additionally, seven percent of his students scored in the top quartile, up from one percent. Under Keith’s instruction, students were learning how to conquer math, not fear it.
Keith is a voracious reader who is always looking for ways to push himself and his students further. In his classroom, where working hard is a shared value, students embrace their struggles and the risk of failure.
“What distinguishes me as a teacher are the decisions I make to foster a growth-mindset in my students,” says Keith. “It’s a belief that we are not born ‘smart’ or ‘not smart’ but that we work hard to become smart.”