Eagle Academy Grad Helps Students in Alt Ed

Eagle Academy Grad Returns to Help Students in Alternative Education
Posted on 11/05/2021

Eagle Academy Grad Returns to Help Students in Alternative Education

When he graduated from Eagle Academy in 2014, Kyle McKinney never thought he would return to DCSD. But the beginning of the 2021-22 school year found him as an Educational Assistant for Affective Needs at Plum Creek Academy. There, he finds happiness and inspiration in the familiar alternative education atmosphere.

What have you been doing since graduation?
I’ve been on a roller coaster, that’s for sure. When I got out of high school, I worked retail for a while, and then I was in the foodservice industry. I did all that for a few years. I got so tired of the same robotic go to work, get my paycheck, and clock out. I eventually realized I needed a deeper personal focus.

So, how did you arrive at Plum Creek Academy?
My mom actually works here with me. She works with Severe Needs students, and she’s pretty amazing at what she does. I just saw how happy it made her. And if doing that kind of work can still make her happy, then I was doing something wrong. I was not happy where I was. Obviously, I couldn’t work with my mom, so I just put myself in a blind situation. Since day one, I’ve loved it. I’ve loved all the connection with the kids. It gives me more than my cup full. It’s actually overflowing!

What is your average day like?
Most days, I just see how the kids are feeling, and then my day follows that. It’s definitely a domino effect. Usually, it can be quiet because we’re a small school, so I spend most of my time assisting the teachers. There are a lot of kids here who need extra love and attention. I try to give a lot of my time to them.

What was it about Eagle Academy that prepared you for being at Plum Creek Academy?
I actually spent two years at Mountain Vista High School and one year at Highlands Ranch High School. I ended up in Eagle Academy because I wasn’t great at school. It wasn’t my number one focus. I had other things going on. The one-on-one connections and smaller classrooms made every bit of difference for me. As opposed to a teacher who has 50 students in a class, who is trying to focus on all of them at the same time, Eagle Academy was very personal. I definitely appreciated that, and I appreciate that now about Plum Creek Academy.

Is there a time or person from Eagle Academy that stands out to you?
Yes, Dr. Reitsch! The learning that I needed was very creative and very personal. She always went out of her way to make sure I was on track, that I was focused. She would do her lecture, and after, she would come up to me and make sure I understood everything. And she was going through struggles of her own, and she was still going out of her way to look out for me. It meant the world.

Why is it important to have schools like Eagle Academy and teachers like Dr. Rietsch?
I think these things are important for everybody, whether they need an alternative school or not. That one-on-one learning time is so important, along with having a smaller group and smaller focus. It helps accelerate the learning process.

What are your plans for the future?
Seeing the kids at Plum Creek Academy who have a 4.0 GPA or a 3.0 GPA and higher who are struggling outside of school has made me want to go the school psychologist or school counselor route professionally. The more I think about it, the more I think that being a school counselor could be the best path for me. So, for now, I’m just trying to see where my fit is. Once I find that I’ll hit the ground running.

How does it feel to be a DCSD alum returning to work at DCSD?
It is mind-blowing! I never thought I would be here, especially coming from Eagle Academy. I was ready to run out the doors on the last day. I wish I didn’t take advantage of school as much as I did then, so being able to give back and speak my message to the students at Plum Creek Academy means the world to me. It hits my heart.

Thank you, Kyle, for sharing your story with us!
Of course! I’m so proud to be part of the DCSD family again!

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