A salute to KAP at thirty
The bridge to Kenyon for Chinagozi Ugwu '10 was built by the Kenyon Academic Partnership program.
Ugwu earned Kenyon credits for English and political science courses she took at Beechcroft High School in Columbus, Ohio. Her high school teachers, mentored by Kenyon faculty members, offered college-level courses that exposed Ugwa to "the expectations of college," she said. The program, she said, is valuable in high schools "that don't have sufficient resources to prepare students well enough for college."
The Kenyon Academic Partnership (KAP) program was tailored for a handful of private prep schools before Peter Rutkoff took over and began "fussing around" about twenty-five years ago. The program now opens the doors of a Kenyon education to students in 32 public and private high schools in rural, suburban, and urban settings around Ohio and marks thirty years this month.
The anniversary will be celebrated at the KAP Convocation on February 21 at 9:30 a.m. in Higley Auditorium. The featured speaker is Allida Black, project director and editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers and research professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University. She is the author of four books, including Courage in a Dangerous World: The Political Writings of Eleanor Roosevelt.
"We do it for a variety of reasons, some self-serving, some altruistic, and that's always the best combination," said Rutkoff, KAP co-director and Robert A. Oden Jr. Professor of American Studies. "We are doing something good, something decent. We're supporting urban public education, and not as an abstraction.
"There is something in it for us," he said. "That becomes a pretty serious recruiting device for us. I'm really pleased with how it's paid off. We've probably had at least fifty kids in the last fifteen years just from Cleveland public schools come to Kenyon."
The program started at the invitation of a handful of private preparatory schools that were seeking more challenging courses three decades ago. Rutkoff expanded it into public schools, starting with Mount Vernon High School and then Cleveland schools. The program now includes schools in Columbus, suburban Franklin County, and Granville, among others. Participating schools pay a fee that averages about $3,000 each school year and students pay $110 in tuition.
The successful student builds college credits by selecting from a full spectrum of courses. The original offerings, in English and history, have sustained popularity. About 1,400 juniors and seniors are enrolled in KAP this year.
"It was important to me to take a good idea that worked for private education and make it available for public education," Rutkoff said. "It's small. It's not bureaucratic. You can do adventurous things and, if they work, then you push them."
Allan Keller was on hand in 1985 as a history teacher when KAP reached Cleveland, at John Hay High School. He is now the special assistant to the director of KAP and the Teaching American History grant coordinator for the Cleveland schools. KAP, he said, raises expectations and gives students a "college identity." Teachers follow a Kenyon course syllabus that includes generous helpings of reading and writing.
"It changes their focus," Keller said. "They're taking a college class."
High school teachers participate in a five-day summer workshop focused on subject matter. The teachers work with Kenyon faculty members and exchange ideas. "We're trying to provide an intellectual service to the high school teachers who don't have the same kind of access that we do to the new stuff," Rutkoff said. "We're not trying to teach them how to teach. They know how to teach."
The Summer KAP program is a spinoff that brings minority students to Kenyon for three weeks in the summer for exposure to the college academic and social environment.