Academics & Character

KIPP’s longstanding motto — “Work hard. Be nice.” — isn’t just a tagline. Since KIPP's beginning in 1994, the development of character has been as important to us as the teaching of rigorous academic skills. At KIPP Colorado, and at KIPP schools across the country, we believe both are critical to the success of our students in college and life. Character education is imbedded in classroom lessons, school culture, and professional development training.

Our approach to character is grounded in the development of seven highly predictive character strengths, as identified by KIPP NYC in collaboration with Dr. Angela Duckworth, Dr. Martin Seligman, and the late Dr. Chris Peterson; and in partnership with Riverdale Country School. KIPP Colorado's character work focuses on seven highly predictive character strengths that are all correlated to leading engaged, happy, and successful lives: zest, grit, optimism, self-control, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity.


Zest Zest
Approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated (actively participates,
showing enthusiasm, invigorates others).

Perseverance and passion for long-term goals (finishing what he or she starts; completing something despite obstacles; trying very hard even after experiencing failure, working independently with focus.)

Optimism Optimism
Expecting that the future holds positive possibilities and believing that, with effort, these possibilities become likelihoods (overcomes frustrations and setbacks quickly, believes effort will improve his or her future).

Self-Control Self-Control
Regulating thoughts, feelings, or behaviors when they conflict with valued goals. In school, this   might look like: coming to class prepared; remembering and following directions; getting to work right away instead of waiting until the last minute; and paying attention and resisting distractions.

         Interpersonal self-control could look like: remaining calm even when criticized or otherwise
         provoked; allowing others to speak without interrupting; being polite to adults and peers;
         and keeping one's temper in check.

Being aware of and appreciating the benefits we receive from others and the desire to reciprocate with our own positive actions (recognizes and shows appreciation for others, does nice things for others as a way of saying thank you).

Social IntelligenceSocial Intelligence
Being aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself, and using this understanding to navigate social situations appropriately (able to find solutions during conflicts with others, demonstrates respect for feelings of others, knows when and how to include others).

Curiosity Curiosity
Taking an interest in learning new things for its own sake and exploring a wide range of relevant information when trying to draw a conclusion (is eager to explore new things, asks and answers questions to deepen understanding, actively listens to others).