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Linda Mah
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KILP Graduates 14 in First Year

Program Expanding in the 2017-18 School Year

The Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program attracted more than 60 students last fall when it launched with a unique combination of online learning, smaller classes, and focus on credit recovery. In June, 14 students graduated from the program.

“What I was hoping for was that we could get one student across the finish line,” said director David Gamble. “Fourteen, I thought was excellent. We had two additional students who came here the first part of the year, completed their credit recovery, and then graduated from their home schools this spring.”

Gamble said he likes to claim those two girls as part of the success of KILP’s first year.

The program helps some students complete their academic work and then graduate with the classmates, who they’ve been going to school with for the past four years.

“That’s part of the program too,” he said. “A large portion of our student body didn’t make really good choices. For a variety of reasons, they couldn’t fulfill the education requirements at their home schools. This offers them an opportunity for credit recovery, with a smaller class size and an individualized academic plan.

“If they’re able to manage that, then they’re able to graduate from here or their home schools.”

KILP focuses on the Michigan Merit Curriculum, or the core classes in math, English, social studies, world languages, and science required for graduation. The academic requirements are similar to Phoenix High School in that it takes 19 credits to graduate: 18 Michigan Merit Curriculum credits and one elective.

Students are able to attend a morning session 7:30 a.m.-12:23 p.m. or an afternoon session 11:30 a.m.-4:23 p.m. There are approximately 15 students per class, which focuses on student directed online study, with teacher assistance when needed.

The small size of the program allows the staff — two teachers, two tutors, and Gamble — to focus on the individual needs of the students.

He said he’s spent most of his professional career working with alternative high school populations, but he said he was caught off-guard by the emotional needs of the KILP students.

“I think I speak for the team when I say we were a little surprised by some of the challenges for our students,” Gamble said. “Maybe 60 to 70 percent of our students really struggled with some trauma they experienced in their lives.”

The program hopes to expand this year to 100 students and three teachers, Gamble said.

The school offers open enrollment throughout the school year, but there is also an official registration period 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at the school, 3333 S. Westnedge Ave.

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

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