6th Grade ELA Instructor & Communications Fellow
What does it take to turn a Kroger grocery store into the 12th YES Prep campus? The answer is Keith Weaver.
Keith is the Managing Director of Operations at YES Prep – a role that encompasses construction, facilities, and day-to-day operations for the district such as food and transportation. On a given day he is typically on site before 7 a.m. coordinating with vendors and contractors, inspecting the completion of projects, and moving on to the next process in line. From hardhat, to lease change, to construction loan, to meeting with School Directors and campus Operations Managers, Weaver operates with diligence and focus.
“My job is to provide [teachers] a quality environment so that they can do their job,” Weaver explained.
Though humble – an admitted “behind the scenes” kind of guy – when pressed, Weaver reveals that his greatest success is having had the opportunity to bring YES Prep through Phase II growth, the expansion to 13 campuses, while meeting deadlines and being under budget on every project.
Maureen Israel, School Director at the Northside campus, praises Weaver for his work.
“Keith has been a tremendous help in ensuring Northside is set up for success when students arrive,” Israel said. “He never hesitates to take time and explain the “why” behind campus construction decisions, all the while seeking input to ensure the structures in place will be beneficial for students and staff,” she added.
Weaver’s humility is further exuded when he explains what he finds motivating about his work.
“It’s a combination of the fact that so many students in Houston, Texas need a quality education and YES Prep is one of the vehicles that can provide that. And to be a part of it is absolutely amazing,” he said. “It’s an organization that’s providing an outstanding education to a diverse group of students and I’m extremely flattered to help.”
The summer months bring a new level of intensity for Weaver with the reconditioning of schools, a process that includes everything from deep cleaning to the painting and restoration of areas that are not accessible during the school year. This summer, in addition to campus reconditioning, Weaver managed three construction projects – building out White Oak as a new campus, the completion of phase two at Northside, and the completion of the gym building at Fifth Ward. In total, nearly 350 individuals worked tirelessly throughout June and July in order to prepare all 13 campuses for the upcoming school year.
Faced with a five-month time frame to transform a previous Kroger grocery building into the newest YES Prep campus, the completion of White Oak encapsulates Weaver’s ability to effectively manage time and resources. White Oak will be the first YES Prep campus to be fully built-out from day one, that is to say there will not be multiple phases.
Describing White Oak, Weaver explained, “It was unique in that it gave us the ability to look at several different ways to lay it out.
The result is a series of unique classroom “storefronts” lining a hallway on each side of the “Big Box” as the Kroger building is referred to. Additionally, students will be privy to an expansive gym and eventually an earthen-bowl style soccer field.
As Weaver transitions into the school year, though certain aspects of his job will slow down, others will gain momentum. He will rely on a team of individuals to provide services on transportation, food, health and wellness, facilities, student information systems and state reporting.
“The team is amazing and we deliver a lot of services that we try on a daily basis to deliver without mistake. And the team does a great job at that. That’s not to say we don’t have mistakes, but we try to deliver without them.”
Though Weaver wasn’t actually looking for a job when he ended up at YES in 2008, he says that making the move to YES wasn’t a difficult decision. “It was that simple. It wasn’t a hard deal. Timing was right and I was ready to do something a little different for somebody else.”
Weaver will no doubt continue to redefine possible for Houston students, their families, and the community through his commitment and service to YES Prep.