BY Spencer Durham
The Crossing Educational Center’s school board broke away from the school and have received accrediation to start their own school.
The State Board of Education unanimously confirmed Freeway accreditation for Kinwell Academy Wednesday.
The Kinwell Academy board decided to break away from The Crossing in order to have more freedom in addressing the issues prevalent in Grant County students, said Roger Younce, director of Kinwell Academy and former campus adminstrator for The Crossing.
“I’m extremely excited for the possibilities we will be able to offer for our students,” Younce said. “I think we will be able to do a lot great things for our kids we weren’t able to do before. It’s really exciting for the future of Marion.”
Under the corporate umbrella of The Crossing, which has more than a dozen branches in the state, both Younce and Kinwell Board President Jerry Harshman said the school was limited on what they could do.
“From a board standpoint we’re excited to have control over what’s going on at the school,” Harshman said.
The school will retain its board and teachers, Harshman added. Now independent, the school will have the ability to have a localized approached to their students. Kinwell’s mission extends far beyond academics and Younce believes they will be able to address that mission in a more complete way.
Similiar to The Crossing, Kinwell Academy will take in county students, many who come from Marion Community Schools, who have either dropped out or face expulsion at their current school.
“We want those kinds of students who are struggling and for whatever reason they are struggling,” Younce told the state board. “Crime, pregnancy, whatever that may be we want those kids.”
During their time as The Crossing Marion, the school worked closely with Marion Schools and will continue to do so. An estimated 75 percent of Kinwell students will come from Marion.
Keith Burke, Marion high school principal, spoke in favor of Kinwell’s accreditation.
“We’ve had great partnership with this group,” he said to the board. “The one thing I can tell you is that they are as motivated and care about children (as we do). It has been a blessing for Marion Community Schools to partner with these individuals. The kids know they love them and care about them.”
Kinwell aims to better the lives of their students in every aspect, not just in the classroom
“There are obviously issues going on (with the students),” Younce told the board. “We want to help out with those issues, not just hand them a diploma and send them on their way.”
Younce said he wants to help set students up for success after school. This includes helping them obtain their permit/driver’s license, setting up a bank account and developing parenting skills.
“They’re not just a piece of academic data,” he said. “They’re a whole human being. We want to work on all of those things.”
The school will also work closely with local businesses to provide students with internships. One of the goals of the internship will be to provide students with certification. Younce said in the past students who interned with the city parks department gained skills they could put on a resume.
“We want them to have certification documents that show these are skills they have learned and they know,” Younce said at Wednesday’s meeting. “We think it sets them better up for the future.”
Harshman said he expects to have 50 kids enrolled by this fall. Kinwell will operate on the same academic calendar as Marion.
The state board was in full approval with Kinwell. The school will now be free to grant credits and issue diplomas.
“In order to serve students better I want them to be more equipped when they walk out with their diplomas and I want to do better at getting them their diplomas,” Younce said. “That’s the Kinwell Academy dream.”