Bayview Sisters Credit KIPP Academy For Their Success

Sun Reporter, San Francisco – Bayview District
Published on October 17, 2019

Lanna Anderson and her sister Aaron Ruth Tanner learned a part of their resiliency while growing up in Alice Griffith, which was one of San Francisco’s most distressed housing developments. Behind its gates, residents battled poverty, community violence, and the traumas that come with them. These young women illustrate how Bayview’s young people can, despite the factors that conspire to derail their success, excel with the support of family and committed educators like the ones at KIPP Bayview Academy, a public middle school that opened on Key Avenue in 2003.

Their mom, Enna Dials, knew she wanted her girls to go to a school that would nurture their interests, honor their growing sense of culture and community, and push them to strive for success in and out of the classroom. The girls too valued what education could do for them.

“Growing up in the Alice Griffith housing projects was not always easy,” Lanna said. She added: “It was a hard environment to grow up in as a young girl, but it also had a lot of beautiful aspects to it. I knew early on that I wanted to go to college and bring back my experience and my learning.” That understanding led Lanna and her sister to attend college where they earned degrees and experiences that they hope will benefit their community.

Enna Dials, right, with daughter Lanna Anderson

Lanna completed a bachelor’s degree from Bennett College and recently earned a Master of Science in biology from North Carolina A&T. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy with the goal of opening a clinic in Bayview Hunters-Point for children and adults with mobility issues.

Inspired by her sister’s success, Aaron Ruth went to KIPP Bayview, too. She now attends California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Aaron fell in love with art as a child and knew she wanted to make it her career; she plans on using her art degree to become an illustrator. In the meantime, she runs a lunch mentoring program at Alice Griffith where she grew up.

“I want the kids I work with at Alice Griffith to grow up to be independent adults who can follow their dreams. They definitely have the spirit for it, and it’s just about continuing to provide opportunities to them,” Aaron said. She learned how to self-advocate while a student at KIPP, and she wants to share that skill with the youth in her mentoring program.

After exploring the school options available when it was time to enroll Lanna in middle school, Enna decided to enroll her at KIPP Bayview Academy because she thought the school’s college-prep focus and environment would help her excel and grow as a scholar and leader. KIPP offered that. 

She saw KIPP teachers in the community and their commitment to what current KIPP Bayview principal Ms. Kelly Valentine described as the school’s desire to forge a “connection to fami- lies and the neighborhood.” She says this is a core part of the school’s philosophy and ap-proach. “Our school is a safe, loving place where students can embrace their identity and develop into community leaders,” explained Ms. Valentine.

“I want all of my neighbors to be able to lead happy lives with job opportunities, health care, and good schools. KIPP is one part of that.”

Lanna Anderson, KIPP Bayview alum

This November, the San Francisco Unified School District will vote on whether or not to renew KIPP Bayview’s charter. Enna and her daughters believe that KIPP has earned that privilege. The girls and their mom credit KIPP Bayview Academy with empowering them to develop valuable academic skills and resiliency.

“The Bayview has been changing as people get pushed out, but I hope that my community continues to get the support and love from San Francisco that it deserves,” Lanna explained.

“I want all of my neighbors to be able to lead happy lives with job opportunities, health care, and good schools. KIPP is one part of that.”

Her mom Enna reflected, “KIPP was the best thing that happened to my daughters. It helped them become organized, determined, and inspired to pursue the life they want.” She added, “The dream is for all of our kids to reach their highest potential. All of them are smart, and they just need the right chances,” she continued. “At some schools students learn only if want to. At KIPP, the goal is to make sure all kids are engaged and learning every day.”

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