Page 8 - Scene Magazine 43-03 March 2018
P. 8

Did You Know?
   Did you know that Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy is a part of the National Guard? That’s why the NG are capi- talized in the title. MYCA is currently
a part of Marshall Public Schools and is funded by the Department of Defense and the State of Michigan. Their “campus” is located at the Veterans Administration complex at Fort Custer. The academy of- fers young people between the ages of 16 through 18 the opportunity to change their lives and make a future for themselves. The Education Coordinator for MYCA is Dr. Rhonda Phillips. Rhonda has chosen the academy and the work she does after teaching science for several years at an alternative high school and finding that she wanted to spend more time one-on- one with “her kids” than in the classroom, “I wanted to work with the students and less on the science,” Rhonda said.
This was about the third different occupation Rhonda had experienced in her young life. Originally she believed she wanted to conduct autopsies, but while she was working as a citizen employee in a police station sorting and filing evidence, she realized she wanted
Dr. Rhonda Phillips
something different. She left the evidence world, completed her bach- elor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University, received her teaching cer- tificate, and realized she needed to be in the classroom. “I really love school if you can’t tell,” laughs Rhonda. It’s a good thing she does because to get to where she is, she’s completed her Bach- elor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. Her doctoral degree is in Education and Technology with an emphasis in Process Implemen- tation. That’s what she does at MYCA. In addition to spending time with “her kids” learning about them and what they need to succeed, Rhonda develops programs and implements those programs. Since
she came to MYCA about two years ago she saw the need for the students to earn their high school diploma. In those two years over 40 of the students have com- pleted their high school diploma while attending the 22 weeks at the academy.
While that is important in the life of those 40 students one of the ideas that Rhonda wants people to understand is the reason there is “alternative education.” That reason is because there are students who are at risk of something. “They have dropped out of school or they may have been suspended, it could be truancy issues. It could be they aren’t doing the work,” Rhonda says. She goes on to explain that manystudents,“Havetogetpastonetrau- ma before I can get them where they need to be,” she says. “These kids don’t know why they are punching walls.– [they] don’t know why they are angry. The only coping mechanism they have is anger,” Rhonda explains. The academy provides the guidance, discipline, and structure that students need in order to succeed. The MYCA website states, “The program incorporates eight core compo- nents that encourage physical, mental, and moral development.”
“Sometimes I wonder why I’m drawn to these kids. Everyone [of them] seems to be at risk for something. I was a straight A student, a do-what-my-Dad-says kid. You just followed the rules,” Rhonda says. She goes on to explain that everyone comes with baggage it’s just that these students don’t have coping mechanisms to cope with their past. “I came to realize in the classroom that I need to get that kid to trust me and then they’ll learn,” Rhonda explains. She’s taken what she learned as a classroom teacher and what she learned while receiving her education and brought it to her job as Education Coordinator to assist the academy to provide the students the skills to succeed. From the academy website, “There are only a few times in your life when you get a second chance. The Academy will provide one of them.”
Rhonda credits her Mom with her cur- rent status as Dr. Rhonda Phillips. “She was very ill as I was completing my dis- sertation, so it was my goal for her to know that I would complete my doctorate... and I did,” Rhonda says with a smile.
You can learn more about the Mich- igan Youth ChalleNGe Academy at their website:
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