School bells ring at Kingman Academy of Learning
New high school principal, future executive director look forward to impacting students at charter school
There is nothing like the sound of the first bell, on the first day of school. On Monday students from Kingman Academy of Learning will head back to school.
The new school year brings changes, including some at the high school and student support center.
Jennifer Perea is KAOL High School’s new woman in charge.
She has taken over the position of principal after 28 years as an education teaching English, geography and yearbook.
She started her new role June 1 and so far has found it exciting and overwhelming.
“It has been really exciting and a great experience to see another side of education that I haven’t really seen,” she said.
Perea is always looking at new ways to stay fresh in the education field, and now being principal she is able have a new “love” for the education system.
Perea said it’ll be a change because it’ll be the first 12-month-long job she has worked.
“I’ve always in my entire lifetime, have always had summers off,” Perea shared in an interview. “As a student, college student and as a teacher I’ve always been off all summer.”
Coming into the school year, something she is looking forward to is impacting the student body on a larger level.
“I’m able to impact all the students in some way at a bigger level because for me it’s about the kids, always about the kids,” she said. “So as a principal you can reach all of them and as a teacher you can try, but it’s mainly those in your class.”
Susan Chan, KAOL executive director and Eric Lillis, former KAOLHS principal, offered Perea the positon.
After talking it through with her husband, she accepted the offer.
Lillis for the 2019-2020 school year will be following in the shadows of Chan because after this school year he will be KAOL executive director.
Lillis said the transition is going very well but he already misses the high school.
“They are in great hands with Mrs. Perea, she is a rock star, she is amazing and she is going to carry on everything that we have done in the past in that high school and just make it bigger and better than it has ever been,” Lillis said.
Lillis said he is still learning, but it’s nice going into a successful place where change isn’t needed.
This year he is looking forward to continuing to learn from Chan and next year he’s putting his vision on things at the Academy.
“(Chan) has done amazing things and I’m just going to try to put my spin on those things and just keep growing the academy and making it as strong and keep the tradition going,” Lillis said.
Lillis’ vision is to help the students grow academically and continue to grow as major members in society. He said it’s not just earning the good grades but what they are doing in society.
“Whether it’s military or the workforce, make an impact in some way, shape or form,” Lillis said. “That’s what I want for our people to do to empower our kids to be able to believe they can do whatever they want to.”
He also wants to give recognition to the students, staff and faculty to make sure they know that they are important.
Culture is something that is important to administrators at the Academy, and for Lillis his favorite part of the culture is that everyone believes that students are an opportunity and not an obligation.
“This is not just a job, this is not just a place where we come and teach a lesson and go home,” he said. “It’s more than that we are making an impact; we’re changing lives.”
Although he wants to impact every student at the Academy he’s now got a lot on his plate. He said he has to get used to taking care of four schools, a transportation department, and other departments at the Academy.
The first week of school he plans to get into the buildings to meet all the new teachers and employees, and say hello to students.
“I’d love to learn all 1,450 names but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do that. But I’m going to try to learn as many as I can,” Lillis said.
School starts at 8 a.m. for the morning preschool, primary, intermediate and high school. Afternoon preschool starts at 12:15 p.m. and the middle school begins class at 7:45 a.m.