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ECAA’s Kendell Mast: ‘We Have a Mutual Agreement of Respect’

August 2, 2022 | Jeffrey Good
ECAA’s Kendell Mast: ‘We Have a Mutual Agreement of Respect’ Hero Image

Like many Acceleration Academies students, 17-year-old Kendell Mast had a hard time thriving in a large, crowded high school. It was too easy to fall behind in her coursework and feel lost in the crowd.

When her father’s Navy job brought her family from Washington State to Pensacola last year, she says, “I thought it would be better to go to a small school where I could go at my own pace. I thrive in smaller environments.”

She found the environment she was looking for at Escambia County Acceleration Academies. Here, she’s found a quiet learning space, ample academic and personal support — and a community of peers who also embrace the flexible, non-traditional school.

“It’s made me more confident in myself. I started making friends,” she says. “It helped me make friends and feel more confident in myself because people here are not judging.”

At her old school, she struggled with taking multiple courses and juggling numerous assignments at a time. She loves ECAA’s approach of having young learners — who are called “graduation candidates” to remind them of their goals — take one course at a time, demonstrating mastery before moving to the next.”

If she begins to lose momentum, Kendall knows that educators including GC advocate Cordivido Grice will be there to gently keep her on track. “He’s very understanding, but he also says, ‘Ok, get online and do your work.’ ”

Rather than having to navigating sprawling corridors and crowded classrooms, GCs at the academy can settle into a comfortable chair in a small room to work independently or in a small group. Rather than having to stay put for long periods of time, they can get up, grab a snack and then get back to work.

“It’s very welcoming,” she says.

After earning her diploma, Kendall “definitely” plans to go to college. And she will carry friendships with other students who may have felt lost but have found their place here.

“We’re all going through something, so we can all relate to one another. So we have a mutual agreement of respect. It just makes me feel good.”