Guest speaker series added to high school’s KAP program

WORTON — In a new offering this year, high school students in the Kent Alternative Placement program are receiving community support through a weekly guest speaker series.

The partnership is being fostered by Assistant Principal Tishara Collins, who is in her second year as the head of the KAP program at Kent County High School.

According to a news release, Collins maintains a focus on building a sense of community inside the program and a connection with the broader community beyond the school walls.

Every Friday last year, KAP students participated in a community-building event such as playing games and sharing a meal.

“Last year, the last hour of the day on Friday would be some type of community fellowship. It built the community of the students and staff, which I think is very important,” Collins said in the news release.

She likened the effort to creating a familial atmosphere, which she then built on this year with the community speaker series.

“The staff and I put our heads together and looked at people we knew from the community who we thought the students would get something from,” Collins said.

The speakers discuss their work and accomplishments, and take time for a question-and-answer session with students.

They also offer important life lessons, according to the news release.

In early October, Kristina Hyland, an agent with Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate in Chestertown, came to the KAP program. Joining her was a loan officer from Main Street Home Loans.

Hyland spoke about the importance of maintaining good financial credit.

Collins said that by having community speakers visit the KAP program, students see their opportunities in life are not limited.

“Sometimes the students don’t realize the options that they have,” Collins said in the news release.

The KAP program is commonly thought of as a placement option for students with severe or continuing disciplinary issues, which paints an incomplete picture.

Located in a modular unit on the high school’s campus in Worton, the KAP program has two teachers and two instructional assistants and can accommodate up to 15 students.

Students may join the KAP program voluntarily, taking advantage of the opportunity for an alternative learning environment. These students make up the majority of KAP’s enrollment, according to the news release.

Students with an Individualized Education Program may enroll as well.

“Disciplinary placements are a very small percentage of the group,” Collins said.

She described the KAP program as being very structured.

Students check in and out. Distractions are reduced and cellphones are not allowed.

“The students are able to be here and focus on their schoolwork,” Collins said.

Students who are falling behind in their studies at the high school have an opportunity to recover credits through KAP.

Collins is quick to tout those students’ successes.

KAP follows the high school curriculum.

Students also can participate in programs at the high school such as Career and Technical Education pathways.

There also are field trips; on a recent outing the KAP students enjoyed a day kayaking and learning about nature.

Collins spoke about how the KAP team maintains a safe space for the students.

She said “it’s like a little community all to themselves. The students want to be here.”

Trish McGee, The Evening Enterprise owner and publisher, is an elected member of the Kent County Board of Education. She did not contribute to this news release.


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