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Challenge: Back to School 2021

“They Have Our Support - It’s As Simple As That.”

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Over the last two decades, I’ve worked at a lot of schools. What I continue to find is that blanket statements don’t work. For example, “Private schools are better than public schools.”

Just not true.

I’ve been to private schools where teachers claim to care about mental health but then burden their students with hours of homework. How’s that better? I’ve also worked with public schools that are running financial literacy programs I’ve yet to see implemented in a private school. And lately, I’ve been spending more time working with charter schools and debunking many of the myths associated with them. At one school in particular, located in San Diego, California, King Chavez Community High School, I’ve been struck by the way the school strategically meets the needs of their students. I wanted to learn more about what’s happening behind the scenes, so I reached out to their CEO, Cindy Kelley, to ask a few questions:


There are a lot of opinions about charter schools - why do you think they are an important piece of the educational landscape?

They offer unique benefits and opportunities that contribute to overall improvement and diversity of educational options. Some of the reasons charter schools are important are: innovation and flexibility, parental choice, teacher autonomy and professional development, competition and community engagement.

I’ve had direct experience working with your Principal Desi Sullivan and your students, so I have an idea of what makes KCCHS so special, but what do you think makes KCCHS standout as a charter school?

KCCHS stands out for a variety of reasons. A smaller high school allows students to have many more interactions with their teachers, counselors, and administrators. It allows the teachers and educators in the school to get to know the students on a much deeper level which is so important during these pivotal years. KCCHS also offers many unique programs such as our King Chavez Alumni College Assistance Program - Through this program our students can receive individualized services, financial support, and more while navigating a new journey beyond high school. Our students get the help they need, and we get to see them shine. It’s a win, win. Through our unique program, alumni may apply for funds for textbooks, technology devices, transportation, mental health services, college and career counseling as well as financial support. When students join King-Chavez, they have our support. It’s as simple as that. Whether you are a TK-12 student, or alumni entering college or career training, we’ve got your back.

What types of unique programming are you able to provide your KCCHS students?

KCCHS students are able to earn free college credits through our Concurrent Enrollment program in partnership with San Diego City College. These earned credits help students’ applications be more competitive, and students feel more prepared for college rigor having already transitioned to the university setting. Concurrent enrollment comes at no cost to a KCCHS student or their family as books/supplies are covered by KCCHS. This in turn saves the student time and money by expediting their timeline towards earning an Associate’s Degree, Certificate of Performance/Achievement, or credits towards a Bachelor’s Degree. Students can explore different career sectors, gain new skills, and become competitive applicants for four-year university admission cycles prior to their transition out of high school.

KCCHS empowers students with a comprehensive foreign language program and multiple pathways to achieve the California State Seal of Biliteracy. The California State Seal of Biliteracy recognizes high school graduates who have achieved proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing at least one more language in addition to English. This distinguished gold seal appears on a diploma or transcript and is recognized as a statement of accomplishment by college admissions and employers.

Sometimes parents overlook charter schools as an option, why do you think parents should take a second look at charter schools?

Not all students are the same and therefore not all schools work for everyone. Having choices allows parents and families to make decisions that best suit their individual needs and desires. The world is changing at a more rapid pace than ever before, which means jobs and careers that we have now will also look different when our students graduate. We have to give all students different opportunities to prepare them for the future.

Of course I needed to get a student perspective and this arrived in my inbox from Jalytza Castellon-Rubio, “I'm very grateful for everything that KC has offered me all these years. The WIT classes helped me to change my mind and create more goals for myself, and think about how I can accomplish them. The College Club has helped me a lot by helping me understand how to apply for college and helping me to complete things. Counselor support has been a very helpful place where I can go and talk with them about everything.” She went on to share more about the opportunities and then wrapped up her thoughts with sharing something I wish all students could say about their school, “It's very nice and feels good that there are people that spend their time talking with you about the problems that we go through and our plans for the future.”

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