"If it weren’t for Acceleration Academies, I don’t know where I’d be."
September 28, 2023 | Jeffrey Good
Kaden Gulley is the oldest of three brothers and he wants to set a good example. “It would send a message for them to do well in school,” he says. “I’m a role model for them.”
At his former, traditional high school, that goal once seemed out of reach. Having to juggle five classes at a time, navigate crowded hallways and classrooms, and seek help from overworked teachers threatened to derail his plans.
“I really didn’t get the help that I needed,” he says. “I would go on my own pace and it would make me fall behind.”
Then he found out about Wichita Acceleration Academies (WAA), which works in partnership with the public school district to provide a flexible, personalized alternative. After enrolling here, he successfully completed one course, then another — and he’s still flying.
“When I was in public school I used to think that I couldn’t get it done,” says Kaden. “But when I came here, I was succeeding — and now I’m going to graduate.”
The flexible scheduling allows him to keep his food service job to pay the bills, and also to stop by the academy several days a week to do coursework and get the academic and personal support he needs.
Social studies coach Kevin Farlow has been a huge help. “I’ll ask him a question and he’ll break it down in ways that I understand.”
Also encouraging was English coach Jarrett Schaef, who helped Kaden understand how different threads of thought and language come together to form a piece of writing. “I surprised myself,” he says. “I can do this!”
Kaden thrives by being able to take one subject at a time. “Here I can focus on one class instead of trying to juggle five at a time.”
In his old school, Kaden was unable to pull on headphones, listen to music and work through his studies at his own pace. At WAA, he’s able to settle into a comfortable seat and do exactly that. “I like this better than sitting in a classroom.”
He plays point guard for a traveling basketball team coached by his father, and takes pride in the way he and his teammates raise money to help less fortunate people get food, clothing, toiletries and other necessities. “It feels good giving people who don’t have a lot of stuff what they need.”
Kaden is exploring career paths in music, metal working and working around airplanes. He’s grateful that WAA has been helping him lay the groundwork for a diploma and the brighter future it can bring.
“If it weren’t for Acceleration Academies, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”