By Owen Wong ’23
Loyola Academy, established in 2011, is an academic program for boys entering 6th grade who show academic promise. The program is a three-year college preparatory middle school charged at no cost for families that have verified financial needs. Even after a whole decade of education, the school continues to grow, accepting new classes of students every year.
Ms. Kendra Krause, the head and director of Loyola, originally came to Brophy in 2011 in order to start the program. All of her teaching experience prior to Brophy had been in public schools, mainly in South Phoenix.
“But here (at Loyola), it’s like we get to do all the things that we didn’t get to do in public school, and I mean that in every way,” Ms. Krause said.
By getting to do the things that she and other teachers weren’t able to do in public schools, she means that they are really able to care for the whole person or student. At Loyola, they are able to help scholars to succeed academically and help families within their community with any sort of crisis or emergency.
Ms. Krause started at Loyola with two teachers that she knew from the public schools she taught at, Mr. Forest Ashby and Ms. Jessica Keough, who she reached out to when starting Loyola.
“I like to think we have stayed together so long because like I said, we are in a really unique spot to serve kids and their families in the way that we do and for as long as we do, and I think that both Mr. Ashby and Ms. Keough appreciate that,” Ms. Krause said.
Ms. Krause also described how both she and the other teachers get to know their students from age ten when they apply, all the way until they graduate from high school since the classes of sixth graders they take in are so small.
Mr. Ashby, another Loyola teacher, is Loyola’s Humanities teacher. Humanities consist of reading, writing, history, vocabulary, and social studies.
Mr. Ashby described his experience at Loyola as a great, challenging experience. He said that he gets to learn more about the kids, the gaps that they need to fill academically, and the knowledge base that the students come in with.
Prior to Loyola, and similar to Ms. Krause, Mr. Ashby has taught in public schools, specifically 15 before he came to Loyola. He worked with Ms. Krause at two different schools, in the Laveen and in the Isaac school districts.
When they worked together, Mr. Ashby described how they used to talk and joke about starting their own school, and when Ms. Krause asked him to apply, he was really excited about the possibility of getting this job and the possibilities with Loyola.
“There was a lot of things that I loved at the public schools and the programs and freedoms there, but I was just frustrated at times by the politics of it, that was passed down, like how this is how you should teach, or this is the best way, the best practice says the legislature even when it didn’t feel like the best practices when you talk with educators, so we used to just sit back and say: wouldn’t it be cool to design our own school,” Mr. Ashby said.
After all this time, he believes that teaching at Loyola is definitely a great fit for him. He said he loves the challenge and really enjoys it. He hopes to end his career at Loyola.
The only other teacher who has been at Loyola since 2011, Ms. Keough, is a Math teacher for all grade levels at Loyola.
Ms. Keough first met the other teachers, Ms. Krause and Mr. Ashby, at the start of the 2005-2006 school year. Both Ms. Krause and Mr. Ashby had been some of the first people she was introduced to at school. She had only worked with them for that small time frame but stayed in touch.
Ms. Keough was brought to Loyola through a reading group organized by Ms. Krause a year before Loyola opened after she was invited to join. At the time, Ms. Keough was in her 5th year of teaching 5th grade and was feeling a need for change. At first, she didn’t initially consider applying, until it was decided that they would hire somebody to teach Language Arts, and somebody to teach Math and Science.
“As I looked at my current 5th-grade students and imagined what I wanted for them in middle school and high school, I saw Loyola as an opportunity to work with students like the ones I had always taught but with the outcome of a school like Brophy and then college. I definitely knew I wanted to apply at that point,” Ms. Keough said.
At Loyola, Ms. Keough said her experience has been very positive, and even though being the only middle school math teacher has been difficult at times, she said that observing the scholars throughout their time at Loyola has been amazing and really rewarding for her.
Over time, Ms. Keough has seen lots of growth at Loyola. Since that first year and class in 2011, she has had the scholars from classes over time offer great advice for the program that they have been able to take and improve upon.
“I feel like when we started we were a novelty. We each created courses that we hoped would best prepare scholars for Brophy. Now Loyola is an established part of Brophy, and we have collected a lot of data and had many scholars go through all seven years. This feedback affects how and what we each teach, how we grade, and the conversations we have with scholars throughout their time at Loyola. Every year we have conversations about what is working and not working and so our program is constantly evolving. I like to think we are a faculty that is open to growth,” Ms. Keough said.
Ms. Keough would like Loyola to continue to be responsive to feedback from Brophy to improve the program that they have and help more scholars succeed at the high school. Furthermore, she thinks Loyola could be a model to other schools that an emphasis on test scores and grades isn’t the only measure for success.