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Kinwell Academy receives grants

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

Kinwell Academy, a small non-public alternative school in Marion, received two grants this year totalling $22,500 to support their educational endeavors.

One grant, given by an anonymous local foundation, provided $12,500 for the purchase of a used van and cargo trailer. The other, from the Community Foundation, gave $10,000 to the school for character development, life coaching and job training efforts.

Kinwell Director Roger Younce said both these grants will be helpful to students. The school already makes several trips throughout the school year, called KITE trips, or Knowledge Integrated through Travel Experience. These experiences, some of which have taken students to Chicago, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Red River Gorge in Kentucky and an apple orchard in Illinois, improve students’ academics while building relationships between students and school staff.

“Relationship is a big part of what we do,” Younce said. “People do better when they know they’re loved. … These trips are very eye-opening for (the students).”

Younce believes the purchase of a new-to-them vehicle will open up more opportunities and support the already existing efforts of Kinwell to holistically educate students. Board President Jerry Harshman agrees. He looks forward to this purchase allowing the students to participate in service learning projects and overnight trips, like camping, possibly even out of state.

Through the Community Foundation grant, students will also benefit from new life coach Latrese Moffitt. According to Harshman, Moffitt’s role will help students explore different careers and recognize their own potential for different jobs.

“We notice a lot of our students, they don’t actually dream,” said Kinwell teacher Tyler Dresbach. “They’ve never actually thought, ‘I could choose to be this thing in my life.’ … We are trying to be proactive about that.”

Moffitt’s connections in the community will also give students the opportunity to observe different occupations and, for older students, potentially participate in internships for training or work experience. As the students are exploring career possibilities and learning about the choices for their futures, shadowing and internships will also get them out connecting with the community and local businesses, Harshman noted.

“(Moffitt is) just brilliant with her curriculum,’ Dresbach said. “She brings so much to the table for us.”

Kinwell Academy partners with public schools such as Marion High School, Mississinewa High School, Eastbrook High School and Oak Hill High School to give students who are struggling a new chance at education. They currently have 36 students enrolled. For more information on Kinwell Academy, visit their website at www.kinwellacademy.org.