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Linda Mah
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KILP Helps Students Succeed

New Alternative School Makes Graduation Possible

Flor Roman’s anxiety attacks made attending the large classes at Loy Norrix impossible. She would get so anxious in large group settings that she would sometimes flee.

Luckily for her, the Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program (KILP) was able to provide the smaller class size and emotional support she needed to continue her education. She plans to graduate in December.

The year-old program, which offers flexible half-day scheduling, online learning, small-group learning environments, and individualized counseling, is Kalamazoo Promise eligible.

Roman said her counselor at Loy Norrix suggested she try KILP last year. The smaller classes of about 15 students and one-on-one interactions with teachers helped her find success in school.

“It allows me to work at my own pace. The teachers are still there to help me when I need them,” she said. “I’m focusing on bettering my health and my education.”

In addition to attending KILP, she also works part time at the Hispanic American Council.

She appreciates the fact that KILP is Promise eligible, and said that principal David Gamble is helping her complete her college applications. She’s like to go to college to become a clinical psychologist.

Roman is exactly the kind of student KILP was designed to serve, Gamble said. The smaller, individualized approach to school gives students a chance to rebuild their high school resumes and find success.

Students attend either a morning session from 7:30 a.m. to 12:23 p.m. or an afternoon session from 11:30 a.m. to 4:23 p.m.The focus on completing the Michigan Merit Curriculum with classes in math, English, social studies, science and world languages required for graduation. Students complete the work through online study, with small group work and teacher assistance when needed.

The program began last year with 60 students. Fourteen graduated in June, and two others complete their credit recovery at KILP and returned to graduate from their home schools. This year the school hopes to attract about 100 students.

Mikiesha Clark, like Roman, is a returning student who plans to graduate in December. Clark attended Kalamazoo Central, where her counselor also suggested she try KILP because of the smaller classes and the student’s ability to pace their own learning and coursework more quickly than in a traditional school.

Clark said she plans to graduate and to use the Promise to attend college. “I’ll be the first to graduate out of my mom’s kids,” Clark said.

People would be wrong to think that KILP is just “easier,” she said.

“If you want to graduate, you have to work. I found that out last year,” she said. “But, the teachers are willing to work with you. They want you to graduate, especially Mr. Gamble. He’ll help you with everything.”

Roman said that the support is very important but so is the independence and self-paced study. She said students come in each day and choose what they will be studying, spending a day on several subjects or choosing to focus on one topic for the entire session.

“I like that they allow us to work by ourselves,” Roman said. “I like the independence that it gives us.”

For more information on the program, contact Gamble at gambleds@kalamazoopublicschools.net or at (269) 548-0190.

 

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