New Kansas City academy opens doors for first day of school, with hopes to improve neighborhood

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- School is in session for kids in one east Kansas City neighborhood.

As the brand new Kansas City Neighborhood Academy opens its doors for the first time, neighbors hope it can transform their streets into a more positive place.

"You never see a great school in a bad neighborhood." Those words came from a teacher at the new KCNA, which plans to serve as many as 220 first and second graders. It's being housed in the old Wendell Phillips School at Highland and E. 24th Terrace.

When school started for the year on Tuesday, so did a new hope for parents. It's a product that's kept parents waiting for years, and for families on the city's east side, the new charter academy holds huge possibilities for a neighborhood that's been deemed a "hot spot" for violent crime by Kansas City Police.

The new academy's curriculum will focus on STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, arts and math -- providing unique classroom opportunities for kids who didn't have them before

"Every family wants their child to have a great set of opportunities," Dr. Robin Henderson, the first-year school's principal, said.

Henderson says, in a former role, she worked with schools in Memphis, Tennessee, some which sat in similar at-risk neighborhoods.
"Everybody in this neighborhood wants to make it better. Everyone wants 18th and Vine to be at least a tenth of what it used to be," Logan said.

Second grade student Pyper Wells, 7, says the new academy is exciting for her since it offers new options for her family and her future.
"I think it can help children learn more," Wells said.

Parents seem to agree. Christina Childs has a student in the school's first grade pod, and she's hopeful the new charter school can unify the neighborhood and bring peace to the streets.

"I think it can bring happiness. It can bring diversity. Different ethnics (sic) can come together and learn together instead of everything that's going on now," Childs told FOX 4 News.

Dr. Henderson also says there's still space to enroll more students. School leaders will be on campus as early as 7 a.m. each morning for families who are interested.

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