Joanna Belcher

Executive Director, KIPP Newark

Joanna's Story

Originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Joanna Belcher received her BA in psychology and Justice and Peace Studies from Georgetown University in 2003. After graduating, Joanna joined Teach For America as part of the San Jose, California corps.  She then taught fourth grade and served on the leadership team at Ralph Bunche Elementary School, the first California Distinguished School in Compton, California. 

After witnessing the impact of school leadership at Bunche, Joanna went on to earn her M.Ed. & Principal Licensure from Harvard University in 2008 and then completed KIPP’s Fisher Fellowship.  In 2009, Joanna became the founding principal of SPARK Academy, KIPP’s first elementary school in Newark, New Jersey.  

From 2014 to 2018, Joanna served as the Chief Academic Officer for KIPP New Jersey schools, developing a K-12 instructional program, managing school leaders, and driving significant academic gains for students.  Joanna is currently the Executive Director of KIPP Newark, serving 4,800 students in eleven schools. 

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