Eric Schmidt ’11

Eric M. Schmidt ’11, a 2011-2012 Fisher Fellow, is the Founding School Leader of KIPP Courage College Prep in Houston, Texas. Before joining KIPP, he was an 8th grade science teacher, served as the 2009 summer school principal, coached the boys’ soccer team for four years, and was named a campus Teacher of the Year during the 2008-2009 academic year. In May 2011, he graduated from Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business with a Master of Business Administration as a member of the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program (REEP). Prior to his Rice MBA, Eric earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies and a minor in Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"I decided that if I was going to do a master's [program], I wanted it to be an experience that would differentiate me from other future school leaders," he said. While the business program didn't offer a clear "template" for running a school, he said, it helped him decide "where do I start, and how do I want this place to look."

Eric began his journey in 2007 when he moved to Houston from North Carolina with Teach For America. “As a grade level chair, 8th grade science teacher, and soccer coach, I worked to build relationships and invest my students and their families in growth in character and academics. In 2009, I entered the Jones School as a member of the REEP MBA cohort. As graduation grew near, I began to think about the next step in my future and I quickly knew it would be with the KIPP team and family.” KIPP is committed to developing underserved students with the academic skills, intellectual habits, and qualities of character necessary to succeed at all levels of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, college, and the competitive world beyond.

Schmidt’s latest project, KIPP Courage, is part of a new collaboration between Spring Branch ISD, KIPP and YES Prep known as the SKY Partnership. Eric says that one of the best parts of the partnership is having the chance to reach the needs of all students by tapping into the power of collaboration. The entrepreneurship mentality of REEP is definitely present at KIPP Courage. Besides being a part of the SKY Partnership, KIPP Courage is also doing a lot of work around Blended Learning, where students do at least some of their classroom work using a computer every day. The school is also piloting the Character Growth Card, national work in KIPP to name the behaviors and character strengths that lead to success for students in college and life.