Yesterday I had the chance to interview in front of the Concordia community Jill Kolasinski, founder and school director of KIPP Austin College Prep. Jill founded the school when she was only 29 years old, and has grown it to 400 students in 5 years. This 5-8 middle school is one where students from undeserved communities come in below grade level in math and reading and leave ready for any college-prep high school. How does the school achieve such results? A culture of excellence and high expectation.
But I was more interested in how Jill achieved such results. How could she, at 29 years old, build such an institution? How could she, a young blond Caucasian woman make such an impact in a largely Hispanic community? How could she motivate teachers and students to be a part of a school where classes run from 7-5, meet twice a month on Saturdays, and 3 weeks during the summer? I think it comes to one simple word - PASSION!
Because Jill believes in what she does - because she wants to make a difference in this community - because she knows that through education people can break the cycle of poverty - and because this is so much on her heart, she can do whatever it takes to get the job done. Her energy is incredible (even having a newborn at home), her commitment is unwaivable, and her passion runs deep. I think that's the difference in leadership. There are many in leadership positions, but the few whose PASSION takes over are the ones who truly are exceptional - and make a difference in the world!
For more info on KIPP Austin, go to www.kippaustinprep.org.