Queen Rania meets Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton before touring LEAP Academy

April 25, 2009

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department- Washington) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah on Friday visited the LEAP Academy in Washington D.C. to learn how the ‘Knowledge is Power Program' (KIPP) has helped underserved children make significant academic gains; and reach the highest test scores of any public school network in the US.

With the aim of preparing children with the necessary academic, intellectual, and character skills needed for success in high school, college, and the competitive world beyond, LEAP Academy opened in July 2007 as KIPP DC’s first early childhood school.

During the visit, Her Majesty was briefed by Susan Schaeffler, Executive Director of KIPP DC, Laura Bowen, School Principal and Katie Hayes, Development Associate about the KIPP curricula, which is based on a core set of operating principles known as the Five Pillars. The principles create the foundation for KIPP schools' success and include clearly defined and measurable high expectations for academic achievement and conduct.

In addition, the school’s curricula, which for many is now considered the default model of urban school reform, consists of an extended school day, week, and year which amounts to about 65% more class time compared to the average school schedule.

KIPP Schools are tuition-free, open-enrollment public schools, accepting children regardless of prior academic record, conduct, or socioeconomic background. Over 80% of KIPP students are eligible for the federally subsidized meal program, and 95% of KIPP students are African American or Latino/Hispanic.

There are more than fifty KIPP schools across the U.S., which have become the highest performing Middle Schools in their cities, offering children from poor and minority backgrounds the chance to get a high quality public education.

Touring the Academy, Her Majesty was then greeted by two LEAD teachers, Ms. Liz Olson and Ms. Kaija McIntosh who conducted a workshop with students entitled: “How Do We Climb the Mountain to College?” In a conversation with the students, Her Majesty spoke about Her Meeting with First Lady of the US Michelle Obama, saying : “the President and Mrs. Obama work very hard for you because they love you so much, and you have to help them by taking care of your school and your country.” The children, who squealed in excitement at the mention of the President and First Lady, were eager to learn more about Queen Rania’s academic choices. Her Majesty shared Her personal experience and described the educational path in Jordan underscoring the importance of teaching young children how to think rather than being told what they should think.

Her Majesty, along with other members of the United Nations Foundation Board, earlier met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss the Foundations future plans.