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Linda Mah
/ Categories: Communications

KILP a Pefect Fit for Some Students

Newest High School Offers Alternative Education

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

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.

KILP is Kalamazoo Public Schools’ newest alternative high school. The year-old program offers flexible half-day scheduling, online learning, small-group study, and individualized counseling. KILP is Kalamazoo Promise-eligible.

Though KPS graduation rates have risen over the last several years, there are still KPS students who benefit from smaller environments. That's where Phoenix High School and KILP enter. Phoenix has had its two largest graduating classes — 96 and 67 students — in its history in the last two years.

Roman said her counselor at Loy Norrix High School 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 director David Gamble is helping her complete her college applications. She’d 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 is on completing the Michigan Merit Curriculum with classes in math, English, social studies, science, and world languages required for graduation. Students complete the work mostly 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 completed their credit recovery at KILP and returned to their home schools to graduate with their friends. This year, the school expects to educate 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 her 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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