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Virtual summer session growing at MySchool@Kent

Helps many students gain credits, free up schedule coming into school year

More than 400 students reaped the benefits of taking online classes at the MySchool@Kent this summer, a record for the alternative program’s summer session. For many of those 403 students, a major benefit was freeing up class loads as they head into this school year.

One of them was Brixton Czlonka. Afafia Herweyer loved her son’s experience in the summer session, and noticed positive changes.

“Traditional classes were hard for him to sit and focus,” Herweyer said of her ninth-grader. “He really liked the online school because he could do it at his own pace. He could be at home and not get distracted.

“The nice thing about the summer classes he took was that it lightened his load for the fall classes,” she added. “He’ll be able to focus on some of the classes he has a harder time with, like math.”

Brixton took two classes this summer: health and English, and did well in both. He said he enjoyed them, too.

“I can get better grades with this type of learning,” said Brixton, who started MySchool@Kent last year after transferring from Mona Shores. “I enjoyed the summer school because it was very simple and not too challenging. I thought it was a good use of my spare time. And I am very relieved about getting a couple classes done this summer.”

Ninth-grader Brixton Czlonka said he can get better grades with the online learning offered by MySchool@Kent (courtesy photo)

An Option for Many Needs

MySchool@Kent is an alternative program for students whose conditions or circumstances make it difficult for them to attend traditional classes. Instruction is delivered mostly online, in the comfort of students’ homes, with the exception of on-site testing at specific locations.

The program’s increasingly popular summer session provides a helpful option for students to “fulfill many needs,” said coordinator Ben Bell.

“Sometimes we have seniors who walked with their class, but need just one last class to meet graduation requirements,” Bell said. “We have students who want to participate in band or drama clubs and need to take summer classes to clear up room in their schedule for the fall. We have students who need to recover credits that they missed during the school year.

“We service students who may experience health issues and cannot be physically present on a regular basis,” he added. “Because of our flexibility, we’re also a popular option for students who travel in the summer, but still need to take summer classes.”

MySchool@Kent Principal Danielle Hendry said they’ve seen an increase in gifted and high-achieving students seeking to complete graduation requirement classes like health or economics in order to free up their schedule during the school year.

“We are happy to help students have the most fulfilling high school experience possible,” Hendry said. “We never want a student to miss out on an opportunity at their local school because they don’t have room in their schedule.”

Principal Danielle Hendry says MySchool@Kent offers non-traditional students an educational setting that allows them to succeed

Flexibility a Plus

Hendry said participating in the summer program doesn’t limit a student’s ability to have other meaningful summer experiences.

“The flexibility of our program in terms of various testing sessions and hours that extend into the evening means that students can have full-time jobs, go on family vacations, participate in camps and other learning experiences and still work on their credits when it fits in their schedule,” Hendry explained.

She noted they gave several scholarships this year to students who demonstrated dedication towards getting on track to graduate, but couldn’t afford summer school.

How It Works

Students from all corners of Kent County can take up to two classes at a time — and up to four classes during summer — within an eight-week period of completion.

They work independently, wherever they have a device and internet access, on courses delivered via the web. They can email or text their teachers with any questions and take most assessments at home. About once a week, students are supposed to go to drop-in testing centers to take unit tests with proctors present, Bell said, adding teachers are available online seven days a week.

The summer session had seven instructors teaching everything from math, English, science and social studies to foreign languages. Electives included creative writing, art and music appreciation, college and career prep, psychology, reading skills and media literacy.

“For some students, this makes the difference of not having to repeat their sophomore year or repeat a class they already took,” Bell said. “For others, it clears their schedule for advanced classes, dual enrollment classes for college credit or special electives that they might not otherwise be able to fit into their schedule.”

For Brixton, his mother said the program taught him good life skills, such as communicating with his teachers. She also liked going with him to the Downtown Market, one of the testing centers, and having lunch with him there.

Herweyer said they eventually want to split Brixton’s time between Forest Hills Northern and MySchool@Kent so he is not home alone all day doing online work.

“I really, really appreciate Kent ISD and Forest Hills because they both worked together to figure out what’s best for him,” Herweyer said. “Some kids do better on their own and not in a traditional classroom. I can’t say enough good things about this program.”

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Cris Greer
Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more.


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