New location spurs positive growth

 Dorothy Rucker of Peabody teaches a dual credit speech class this spring to students at Marion High School through Butler of the Flint Hills. At the same time Marion students are being taught, Interactive Distance Learning is making it possible to offer the class simultaneously to Centre and Herington students. Now in its second year at its new location on the Marion High School campus, Butler of the Flint Hills continues to see positive growth, said Amy Kjellin, director of the Flint Hills sites.

?We have added two new classes that had not been offered in previous years at MHS, to include a U.S. History section being taught as a concurrent class and a CNA class,? she said.

Although classes for certified nurse aides are not new to MHS, it was the first time it had been offered to Marion students only.

Determined group

In May 2015, Kjellin said eight students approached the high school counselor requesting to have a CNA class.

?Our original schedule was only planning on a class every other year,? she said. ?After discussions, testing and meetings, we had eight MHS students getting the CNA training during the day.?

It was an adjustment for the instructor to teach classes during the day, Kjellin said, because she was used to night classes.

?But it has been a fabulous opportunity for these younger students to get the training they need,? she added. ?It went well and all the students passed their state test.

?One may delay getting a job until summer, but the rest of them are currently working in a facility in Marion County.?

The most recent CNA class started Feb. 1 with six students. In addition to the two adults taking the class, the other students came from Marion, Peabody and Centre high schools, she said.

The class is from 4:30-8:30 p.m., two nights a week to fit with their high school sche?dules.

Recruiting an instructor to teach the CMA classes has been a challenge, she said.

?This semester we couldn?t find a teacher to do the certified medication aide courses,? she said. ?We end?ed up having four students from Marion County driving to Council Grove to take the classes.?

Kjellin said she believed if the Marion campus could have had a CMA teacher, they could have offered both CMA and CNA classes.


Kjellin said there are also opportunities at Butler of the Flint Hills.

Last year, more than 50 percent of Marion High School students took at least one class from school.

?The average student earned 15 credit hours and nine students had 17 or more hours and one student earned 27 credit hours,? Kjellin said. ?The MHS class earned a total of 214 credit hours with 14 students taking classes.?

In addition, two students earned their CNA license.

Another plus, she said, was that six students from the MHS class of 2015 enrolled as full-time students at BCC last fall.?We are able to talk with the students more, and we have more rapport with the administration and teachers.??Amy Kjellin, director of the Butler of the Flint Hills sites

Another highlight last summer was that the Marion site saw a large CNA and college algebra class.

?Our Marion site had 14 students taking the summer CNA class with Virgina Hammond,? she said. ?Many of those were high school students who were unable to get the training during the school year.?

Students from every high school in Marion County attended classes along with several adults.

?Only one of the high school students was from Marion,? she said. ?The other high school students taking the CNA class were from Hillsboro, Peabody and Centre, with one coming over from Herington.?

Continuing to grow

Kjellin said the number of high school students in the Flint Hills service area is growing.

?Our rural students benefit from the flexible options offered by using video conferencing technology, Canvas and blended format for classes that meet during the high school day,? she said.

At the Marion campus, more than 149 high school students were placement tested in preparation for the fall 2015 semester resulting in an increase of 241 credit hours over fall 2014.

MHS provided students six college courses last fall, she said, along with online options.

Zoom a good solution

Because of the challenge to find local instructors, the satellite site in Marion has found Zoom to be useful, Kjellin said.

?We have used Zoom in the classroom for recording sessions, for an absent student or connecting between the sites when our IDL (Interactive Distance Learning) equip?ment is in use,? she said.

This technology has been used for tutoring between Council Grove and Marion or for staff meetings, Kjellin added.

On more than one occasion, students ?come to class? virtually when they have had surgery or other medical conditions making them unable to come in the building.

?The flexibility (of Zoom) is wonderful and has opened avenues for us that previously were not available,? she said.

?With the shrinking size of rural high schools, and the decline in our target populations, the community sites will rely more and more on flexible formats for our students,? she said


Kjellin attributes a lot of Butler?s success with MHS students from the fact they are on the same campus.

?We are able to talk with the students more, and we have more rapport with the administration and teachers,? she said.

What Butler has at MHS, though, is something Kjellin said she would like to have at all the other high schools in Marion County.

?Marion High School is a large enrollment center, but we work with Peabody High School and have at least 15 students doing college classes and maybe 10 or more at Centre,? she said.

Those are the smaller high schools, but even with that, Kjellin said at least half or more of the seniors are earning classes in English Comp, College Algebra, speech and psychology.

?Every year, Hillsboro High School has a large general psychology course, but they also have classes that run through Tabor College and Cloud Community College,? she said.

One goal would be to ?win back HHS? students through more awareness of the programs offered and the benefits a student has by taking college credits through Butler, Kjellin said.

In addition to Kjellin, Rita Tomlinson is the site secretary and Terry Klenda is the adviser and evening coordinator.

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