Loyola Academy

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Loyola Academy is a new program at Brophy College Preparatory for underprivileged students with strong academic potential. The goal is to put students on a track to succeed in a challenging college-preparatory program.
Kendra Krause, Loyola Academy Director, and Bob Ryan, Brophy College Preparatory Principal, discuss the program.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us, I'm José Cárdenas. In August, Brophy College Preparatory began Loyola Academy, a new tuition-free academy educating boys with academic potential in sixth through eighth grades. The goal is to prepare and qualify them to be Brophy College Prep students. With me to talk about the program is Kendra Krause, Director of Loyola Academy, also here is Bob Ryan, Principal of Brophy College Preparatory. Thanks for joining on us our show tonight. Bob, let's start with you. You're the principal of Brophy Prep, one of the most prestigious preparatory schools in the state, actually nation now. Tell us a little bit about Brophy and then let's talk specifically about how this Loyola Academy came to be.

Bob Ryan: Sure. We're a Catholic Jesuit college preparatory school of about 1250 boys, grades 9-12, we've been in existence since 1928. It's our mission essentially to take boys that we believe have great potential to be leaders in the world and in our community and give them the tools and the experience to do so when they leave us. So college preparatory, but that's not the ultimate goal. We seek to form young men who will be agents of change in the world that desperately needs it.

José Cárdenas: Why Loyola Academy? You're already very successful.

Bob Ryan: Sure. We think we do a nice job with high school students. We're really happy with the program that we have. But we over the years have tried to include students from all over the valley in our program. We draw ninth graders from over 110 elementary schools, and we wanted to include students from typically underserved communities. So for a number of years we've had different interventions at the high school level, trying to provide them the remediation that's needed to bring -- to close the gaps in their educational background so they can be successful at Brophy, and we've just continued to say to ourselves, we wish we could get these boys earlier. And so we had some space that we were able to reconfigure on our campus, and this support of the community, and we knew there's a need. Education is not in good shape in Arizona and we thought we could make a contribution. So expanding our reach to include students that otherwise wouldn't be on our -- on our trajectory to get to Brophy.

José Cárdenas: And Kendra, you were hired specifically to run the Loyola Academy?

Kendra Krause: Correct.

José Cárdenas: When did that happen?

Kendra Krause: They announced it in November, and I was interested right away but I started March 1st of this last year.

José Cárdenas: You had to decide what the criteria were going to be, and how many students. So tell us about that process.

Kendra Krause: I think we really talked about what we imagined kids needing in Brophy and what that might look like if they're 10 years old and in fifth grade. More than anything we looked for kids and families that were really committed. We offer an extended school day and an extended school year- our kids are there 1o hours a day and 11 months out of the year. We knew that would require a lot of commitment and dedication on the part of the students and their families. We looked for that I think more than anything. The first qualifying factor being need, families needed to demonstrate financial need. All of our families qualified for federal free or reduced lunch.

José Cárdenas: That's about 20 some odd thousand in terms of family income?

Kendra Krause: I think it's a family of four or five is $20,000 a year or less.

José Cárdenas: Did you recruit into local schools? Get teacher recommendations?

Kendra Krause: We did a little bit of everything. We went door-to-door, we talked to different parishes, used a lot of nonprofits- Boy's and Girl's Club was really helpful, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Teach for America teachers. Anything to really get the word out. But yes, part of what students needed to do was bring in a letter of recommendation from their fifth grade teacher.

José Cárdenas: As the selection process, you were looking at kids that were you fairly confident with the right training could make it at Brophy Prep because if these students stay in the program- they will be in your high school program, correct?

Bob Ryan: Sure. Loyola Academy is not an independent school. It's a program within Brophy. When we admitted these students we admitted them to Brophy. We didn't feel it was fair to take kids that wouldn't succeed at the high school level. So we knew that students had gaps, but we were limited in terms of our ability to close huge gaps, because of where they would be in ninth grade. But nonetheless, these are all students that we felt in the admissions process probably wouldn't be on a trajectory to get to Brophy without Loyola Academy.

José Cárdenas: The process of selection, including exposing them, making sure they understood what was going to be expected, and we've got pictures of at least one of the initial steps there was an outing out in Oak Creek Canyon.

Kendra Krause: Right. So Brophy has an amazing retreat facility that we're blessed to be able to use. Part of what we did, the first experience the boys really had together as a community, was a weekend retreat.

José Cárdenas: This is before you even made the final selections?

Kendra Krause: No. They had been selected, but it was before their first day on campus as students.

José Cárdenas: Kind of a bonding experience.

Kendra Krause: Exactly. We knew it, again, we were asking a lot of these kids and their families, none of our kids can walk to school, so they're deliberately choosing to leave their homes for a long period of time, their neighborhood, their neighborhood schools, their friends, and we felt that giving them that sense of community would go a long way towards acclimating them to the culture shift and to the rigor of the day.

José Cárdenas: And it is a very rigorous day. Tell us about the curriculum and the time periods they spend at school.

Kendra Krause: The kids are there from 7:30 to 5:30 every day.

José Cárdenas: Monday through Thursday?

Kendra Krause: Yes. Fridays are a little different. But, again, the goal is to get them to Brophy as ninth graders that aren't struggling. They're doing well and they're in honors classes. So we backtracked in there, what do kids need to know in sixth grade to get them there. So our kids have an extended math block, an extended reading block, but they also have science and social studies, a Latin, a religion and a variety of extracurricular activities.

José Cárdenas: And it's 11 months a year?

Kendra Krause: 11 months a year.

José Cárdenas: This is the first class, so it's all sixth graders?

Kendra Krause: Correct.

José Cárdenas: How are they doing?

Kendra Krause: Really well. They're all still here, that's the most important thing. We've seen struggles, but it's really exciting to have the flexibility and the resources to help them. And they're amazing. They're really curious, talented kids and they love the school and the school loves them back, and it's been really fun to be a part of.

Bob Ryan: I was just going to say not only are they all still there, but they couldn't be happier and more excited to be there. It's a rigorous day, as you said, and I think one of the telltale signs after a three-day weekend they were upset that they had to take a day off school. And 5:30 rolls around, and we're all exhausted but we have to kick them out the door because…

José Cárdenas: Because they don't want to leave?

Bob Ryan: Because they love being there.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk about some of the activities that they're engaged in.

Bob Ryan: Sure.

José Cárdenas: I know we have a picture of them at their monthly mass, where all the students including the high school students are present. This is this class. This is the inaugural class that is being shown on the screen?

Bob Ryan: Our philosophy as a school, we cultivated the well rounded student and seek to development the gifts in every dimension of the student. It's not just academics at the high school, it's academic, it's co-corricular activities, it's arts, it's music, and we've just extended that to the sixth greaders. So it's a rigorous program but they also participate in the spiritual formation activities that the high school kids do, they go on field trips, they're exposed to the arts and to music. Just trying in all aspects to develop all the gifts that we know these guys have.

José Cárdenas: And we have a picture of one of those field trips on the screen. This was an outing to a local business. Is that right?

Kendra Krause: That's correct. It was to LUX coffee house. So we that that part of what these kids might be lacking or not exposed to is cultural capital things and we really want to expose them to different people. And Lux is within walking distance so we walked down there and Jeff Fisher talked to them about his dream and what it is that he does, and how he got there. And the kids really responded. And it's the added resources that allow us to do those things for these kids.

José Cárdenas: Bob, Brophy is an expensive school and the tuition would be, what?

Bob Ryan: This year tuition is $12,800.

José Cárdenas: And they don't pay that?

Bob Ryan: Correct.

José Cárdenas: So where's the money coming from?

Bob Ryan: Well tuition is $12,800 at the high school level. We have a $2.6 million financial aid budget this year. And we're committed to making Brophy accessible to students of all backgrounds. But it wasn't a financial obstacle for these kids it was an academic one. So the funding for Loyola comes completely independent of funding sources for the high school. There was a campaign initiated once this was announced in November. Since November we've raced nearly $2 million to fund Loyola Academy and hopefully to endow it. So it's a fully funded program.

José Cárdenas: And your supporters are some rather prominent people in the community?

Bob Ryan: Yeah. Ken Kendrick was really the one that kicked us off.

José Cárdenas: The owner of the Diamondbacks.

Bob Ryan: The owner of the Diamondbacks. His son is a Brophy student. And he heard about this and was excited from the get go, and he really was the tipping point in terms to being committed to making this happen, because he said he wanted to see -- he was -- he invested personally and he also led the campaign to get other people in the community on board. So the Steele Foundation has been supportive, the McCain family has been supportive, plenty of other folks. Not to mention, the Brophy community. The Jesuit community of Brophy has supported the school, lots of Brophy families, Brophy students. I think that's been one of the neatest things to see students approaching Kendra or me and kids who were interested in robotics and say, "Hey I want to start a robotics program at Loyola Accademy." So two days a week they engage these kids in robotics competitions or math club or they've taught the kids how to play chess. There's going to be a video yearbook they're going to put together later this year. Those are all things that the high school kids have initiated.

José Cárdenas: Kendra, we're about out of time. You're recruiting now, the process is starting for next year's class. Application were available this week. Give me a quick summary of the rest of the process.

Kendra Krause: Families need to come in and pick up a physical paper application from me, those are due in January. And then there's a series of steps from there, including a test and an interview with us essentially. And then final decisions later in the spring.

José Cárdenas: It's a remarkable program. Thank you both for joining us.

Bob Ryan: Thank you.

Kendra Krause: Thank you.

Kendra Krause:Loyola Academy Director; Bob Ryan:Brophy College Preparatory Principal;

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