Successes in 2021
After a 2020-2021 school year marked by multiple school closures, online learning, pandemic lockdowns, and limited extra-curriculars, it seemed to Kingsley superintendent Dr. Keith Smith, that this year, things could only go up.
"It’s been great getting back to ‘normal’, to be able to have full attendance at sporting events, to have our athletes practice without masks, to have Homecoming," said Dr. Smith.
"The biggest part of this year is getting caught back up and playing catch up."
So far, Kingsley has had a lot to celebrate this year.
Kingsley Test Scores Highest in the ISD
Last year, Kingsley students earned impressive marks on the MStep standardized tests. While they weren't as high as pre-pandemic levels, the scores reflected a high quality of learning despite so many educational disruptions during the 2020-2021 phase of the pandemic.
"Kingsley’s test scores from last year were insane!" said Dr. Smith.
"This was the first year that we have had the highest test scores in the ISD, and we have some great schools in the area."
"To finally overtake Glen Lake, Leland, Elk Rapids, and Frankfort...it was awesome to have the vindication of what we did."
District Enrollment Reaches Near Peak Numbers
Kingsley Schools is now within 8 students of its peak within the past 20 years.
Dr. Smith says this isn't a surprise considering the district's reputation for quality academics and outstanding teachers.
"We provide an outstanding education, as evidenced by our test scores. The community still has small town values. People embrace coming here. We are big enough to offer opportunities for our kids, more so than a lot of our smaller neighbors, but not so big that you’re lost. You’re not a number."
"We very much stay true to our focus on quality academics. Athletics and our music programs are important. We’re firing on all cylinders right now."
Kingsley Has Success Hiring despite Nationwide Labor Shortage
"Not only did we fill positions, we were able to get really high-quality people. We live in a beautiful area, so it’s a great place to recruit, and the Kingsley community has a tremendous reputation, and the people really appreciate and enjoy this area," said Dr. Smith.
With our fund balance, we are able to pay for seniority and get teachers with great experience."
New Year, New Challenges
As 2021 comes to a close, Dr. Keith Smith says the semester and school year has brought challenges, but not the ones he expected.
This summer, Dr. Smith prepared organizationally, and mentally, to handle multiple pandemic-related closures. So far, the district has taken two days off to accommodate for circulating viruses, including COVID and the flu.
Kingsley Schools closed on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break after 297 kids called in sick.
"We got hit decently hard at the beginning of the year with COVID, so I’m impressed we’ve been able to do so well," said Dr. Smith.
"This delta variant is hitting way harder than the other one, I'm sure we'll have a couple more small closures between now and the end of the school year, but we'll do what we need to do to keep your kids healthy."
Kingsley Eliminates Online Program
Keeping kids in class is Dr. Smith's first priority. As the pandemic drags into it's second year, gaps in learning, both social and emotional, have become noticeable.
To maximize student success, the district nixed its online learning program to focus on in-class education.
"Our decision to get out of online education wasn’t because it was causing extra work for the staff, which it did, it was because the kids were not being successful," said Dr. Smith.
"There was a significant amount of learning loss, and frankly, we didn’t see good enough results across the board to justify continuing it."
"We're also very mindful of the emotional health of our children. These kids only get one shot at first grade, second grade, and so on. We understand that people are dealing with a lot on their end."
To learn more about Kingsley Schools or to contact the Administration Department, call 231-263-5261 or visit www.kingsleyschools.org