Alumni Spotlight: Kashon Lopes, Vice Principal at McKinley Elementary School, Newark, NJ

Kashon Lopes is a devout educator and educational leader. His love of literature and language are only superseded by his passion for teaching and learning, students, and urban education.

He graduated Drew University with a B.A. in English with minors in Creative Writing & Pan African Studies and received an M.A. in Teaching from Drew University (English Certification, K-12), and an Ed.S (Education Specialist) from Seton Hall University in Education Leadership, Management, & Policy

Kashon is currently a Vice Principal at McKinley Elementary School (Pre-Kindergarten – 8th Grade) where he is working tirelessly to improve literacy rates for students living in the North Ward of Newark, NJ. He oversees the Literacy department school-wide. This past summer, Kashon served as the Summer School Principal where he oversaw the elementary summer school program, bilingual program, and extended school year program for students with exceptional abilities.

Prior to this, Kashon was a Literacy Coach at New Horizons Community Charter School where he worked alongside staff developers from Teachers College: Reading and Writing Project. Under his supervision, the academic performance of students in the seventh grade increased greatly.

Before this, he was an English Language Arts teacher for several years in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. There, he served on various committees and in other professional roles: he was a member of the data analyst team, a member of the District’s Evaluation Advisory Committee (DEAC), a member of the district’s I&RS committee, a teacher liaison to the Home School Association, and Assistant Coordinator for the “No Place for Hate” committee. Kashon was also the Site Supervisor for the Achieve Foundation’s comprehensive tutoring program, and a track and field coach at Columbia High School.

While working for the SOMSD community, he received recognition for the educational environment that he fostered in his classroom. His use of student-centered approaches to teaching, current literacy strategies, and technology-infused resources continued to raise academic achievement each year for all students.

Before teaching in the SOMSD community, Kashon served as a substitute teacher for the Irvington Public Schools District, while completing his Master’s of Arts in Teaching degree at Drew University’s Casperan School of Graduate Studies. Currently, he is working towards his Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degree at Seton Hall University in Educational Leadership, Management, and Policy.

Because he has worked in both urban and suburban communities, Kashon is privy to the challenges school systems face today. His years of experience and knowledge of best practices make him an asset to any educational organization or school district.

Please feel free to contact him at: kashonlopes@gmail.com, on Twitter at: @MrKLopes, or visit his summer school webpage by clicking here.

What were your best experience (s) at Drew?

Besides the courses offered at Drew, my best experiences involve the study abroad opportunities and extracurricular activities. I was fortunate to study abroad in London for a semester, participate in a Drew International Seminar in Ghana for a few weeks, and help to build a school in Uganda with one of the student-led organizations.

How did Drew help you get to your current career?

The Master of Arts in Teaching program as well as the Liberal Arts education that I received prepared me with a well-rounded, solid educational foundation. I feel as though I can succeed in any career field because of the diverse coursework that Drew offers—from statistics to the arts.

What advice would you give students in your career or identity/affinity community and who are interested in pursuing a similar career?

Never stop learning and embrace change. The field of education has changed in some ways, so it is vital that educators/leaders continue to learn and adapt in order to provide students with the best education possible (regardless of what shifts occur).

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