KCPS Middle College program uses education to overcome adversity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The “traditional” path for a high school student is anything but these days.

An increasing number of students face unique and complex life issues that do not always translate into the classroom and can end their education.

Kansas City Public Schools and the Metropolitan Community College Penn Valley Campus, which partnered in 2018 to create the KCPS Middle College program, are working to bridge this adversity with education.

“Because there was a place for it – I mean there are kids who would rather come here than go to a regular high school,” said the program’s extended learning coordinator, Annette. McDonald, on the creation of the program.


One of the first students to enter the program was Huda Alkhatib.

“It’s… amazing, how seriously, this program saved my life,” Alkhatib said.

Alkhatib was 20 years old and in the 10e at East High School when she told her counselor, “I can’t do this anymore.”

“Whenever a student knew my age, he [would] start laughing and told me you won’t make it, you won’t graduate because you’re too old, ”Alkhatib said.

These students knew Alkhatib’s age but not his history.

In 2013, following the war in Syria, she and her family had to leave for Egypt, and three years later she would come to Kansas City through Jewish Family Services, with English as a second language. .

Alkhatib family.jpg

Courtesy of: Huda Alkhatib

When Alkhatib arrived, because she had no papers from her previous school, she was placed in the ninth grade.

“And when I came, to be honest, we asked if you needed papers from my home country, they said no, you’re good,” Alkhatib said.

But when she tried to solve the problem of which class she should technically be in, Alkhatib said documents were suddenly requested.

“My school is down now, I can’t get anything. My school dropped out because of the bombing, ”she said.

It was this kind of life issue that almost kept Alkhatib from finishing high school.

Fortunately, an educator working on the launch of a then new program recruited Alkhatib to be one of the first students.

“I don’t want to choke on myself, but it’s a big deal,” McDonald said. “They tell me ‘you can’t come here anymore’, ‘you’re too old’, ‘you won’t be able to graduate from high school’, then she stayed with me and we got her. It’s a big problem.

Huda at MCC Penn Valley.jpg

Courtesy of: Huda Alkhatib

“Even if you have a lot of problems in your life, no matter what, just go get your high school diploma, finish your education,” said Alkhatib, who is determined to help rebuild her home country. “Like me, from a country at war, I wanted to give up, but I didn’t because I will probably go back to my country one day and help them and the only way to do that is through my education. “

A new cohort of students now sits down where Alkhatib once was, but is never more than a few feet away to guide them as an administrative assistant for the KCPS Middle College program. He has a year to go before he can get his coding and billing medical certificate.

Huda Alkhatib.jpg


Huda Alkhatib has graduated from high school and is a year overdue for her medical coding and billing certification. Alkhatib is part of the first cohort of students in the KCPS Middle College program.

Students who are in similar situations don’t always find someone like Annette McDonald.

McDonald said she has to thank the administration for supporting the program.

“Dr Lee and Dr Bedell, Dr Lee is the president here at MCC and our superintendent – [they had] that kind of compassion to know that school isn’t always square, that it doesn’t always have to happen in the same place it has happened for 100 years and [were] willing to take a risk because it was a big risk, ”McDonald said.

MCC’s Penn Valley campus not only provides a space to learn, but also helps students earn college credit while completing high school.

The KCPS Middle College program is a partnership between the MCC Penn Valley Campus, KCPS, and the Full Employment Council, providing services that help prepare for the HiSET exam, post-secondary options, and a path to a two-year degree program. at MCC and Career-Technical training and certification.

The next KCPS Middle College Screening Assessment Program is scheduled for Tuesday, October 12 and Wednesday, October 13, from 7:45 a.m. to noon at MCC – Penn Valley Campus, located in room 503 of the Campus Center.

A seat can be reserved by texting (816) 803-6356 or calling (816) 604-4019.

Since the inception of the program in 2018, 229 students have graduated.

The program has an 83% graduation rate.

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