Offerings Include Extended School Days, Enrichment Courses and After-Hours Access to Staff
“Because we have a longer school day, we offer all disciplines every day.
Our courses are not necessarily more ingenious than other schools, but they are
more concrete and consistent. Our goal is to prepare our students for top
performing high schools and college.”
-- Jon Richard, School Leader, KIPP Endeavor Academy
Kansas City’s newest free public charter school opened its doors to students on July 9, 2007. KIPP Endeavor Academy (KEA) is a college preparatory school whose mission is to serve students in under-resourced communities and get them on the path to college.
The new school is based on the national school model KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) that proves students can be successful if they are provided with outstanding educators, longer learning periods, rigorous curriculums, high expectations for achievement, and strong support.
While the school will ultimately serve up to 360 students in grades five through eight, it opened its doors to fifth-graders only this year. Each year for the coming three years, another grade will be added.
Jon Richard, school leader, said the school starts in fifth grade because it is seen as a pivotal year for students, when they are still open to new ideas and ways of learning.
One of the most visible differences in the KEA when compared with public schools, is the actual time students spend in school. The school day is from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The school year also includes 16 Saturday school days for enrichment offerings such as tennis, martial arts, and pottery. There is a week-long fall break, a two-week winter break, and the school year comes to a close at the end of May. Each new school year begins in early July.
“Because we have a longer school day, we offer all disciplines every day,” Richard said. “Our courses are not necessarily more ingenious than other schools, but they are more concrete and consistent. Our goal is to prepare our students for top performing high schools and college.”
Writing is offered as a separate course, emphasizing to students the importance of writing in college and in every day life. Spanish is a required course as are higher-level math courses.
A staff of eight, including Richard, guide the students. All will be available to students and their families until 9 p.m. each day; all teachers will provide families with their cell phone numbers.
“Traditionally we have had a gap between families and schools,” Richard said. “But when we enroll students for KEA, we enroll them at their homes. And many of our meetings with parents during the school year will be in their homes. We want to break down that gap. We are a team and that includes parents, too.”
To enroll in KEA for this school year, students were required to be entering fifth grade and living within the boundaries of the Kansas City, Missouri School District. Richard said students are recruited through faith-based organizations, door-to-door visits, and referrals from community organizations.
KEA is one of 52 KIPP schools in 16 states.