October 10, 2023 | by Lamontreal King, Kairos Parent
I can best describe the transformative impact Kairos Academies has had on my child through my reaction to a phone call from my son’s teacher.
Let me begin with a story: A few days ago, a teacher called home to tell me that my son LJ, a 10th grader at Kairos Academies, had volunteered to give a tour of the school to a new student. It was the kind of routine call that I am sure teachers make every day at Kairos as a way to share updates with parents about what is happening in the classroom. But for me, it meant the world because it was a reminder of the incredible growth LJ has experienced.
Back in 2019, LJ was a sixth grader and his mom and I were desperately trying to find a middle school that would be the right fit for him. LJ has autism, and we both felt he required an environment that could accommodate his need for frequent breaks to avoid overstimulation while also pushing him to excel academically.
My wife had learned of a new school opening up, and a few days later I was sitting down with Kairos’ school administrator, Jack Krewson. What convinced me to enroll my son wasn’t anything Jack said. It’s that he listened as I shared my hopes and dreams for my son.
And then Jack made a promise. He promised that Kairos educators would be responsive and work to meet my son’s needs.
"I would soon discover that Kairos is a school that delivers on its promises."
I would soon discover that Kairos is a school that delivers on its promises.
In his first year, LJ would sometimes have moments of frustration. The classroom added a swing pod where LJ could go whenever he needed to regain his composure. It immediately calmed him down.
LJ started getting speech and occupational therapy. He was making progress. Like any student, my son has better days than others. What sets Kairos apart is that when he does experience that inevitable challenge, his teacher communicates with me in a transparent and solution-oriented manner. I am always treated like a partner in my son’s education.
"I am always treated like a partner in my son’s education."
LJ’s teachers not only met him where he was but pushed him to be his best. You see, I don’t accept that autism will prevent LJ from reaching his potential. Some kids think things are too hard and get overwhelmed. But in actuality, they just need that nudge. LJ is one of those kids. And Kairos gave him a powerful nudge.
I attribute some of this growth to an all Black male mentorship group that he is part of. As a Black man who was bussed to a White school as part of St. Louis’ desegregation efforts, I strongly believe that it’s necessary for young people to have spaces where they are surrounded by people who understand the unique experiences of being a Black man in America.
The group encourages young Black men to be vulnerable and support each other. It’s been particularly helpful for my son because whether it’s shyness or emotional immaturity, LJ has had trouble communicating his feelings.
But recently, he started opening up. And he hasn’t stopped. Now, LJ comes to me with his thoughts. He has totally come out of his shell. If I’m being honest, Kairos has helped LJ do things I thought he’d never do. I’ve been so impressed by this program that I’ve been in touch with Kairos leaders about helping them scale its impact, and I’m grateful that they have shown a willingness to pursue such a partnership.
So now you understand why a phone call from a teacher saying that LJ gave a tour of the school to a new student made me so proud. Thanks to Kairos, LJ has grown into a thoughtful young man and into a leader. What more can a parent ask for from a school?