Kairos Academies | St. Louis Public Radio

Kairos Academies

Katie, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Kairos Academies, works on an English assignment on a recent school day.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Running a new school is not all that different from any other startup business. There are surprises, pivots and changes.

Kairos Academies, an independent public charter school, is navigating its first year with two young, ambitious co-founders and an education philosophy unlike any other in St. Louis public school offerings.

Students work in the library of Kairos Academies, a charter middle school with a non-traditional learning model that opening in St. Louis. Aug. 15, 2019.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Gavin Schiffres pulls caffeinated hard candy wrappers out of the pocket of his dress slacks, admitting he’s only been sleeping a few hours a night. 

It’s been an exhausting first week tending to the new charter middle school he co-founded. 

Kairos Academies opened Monday in the top floor of a printing company along Jefferson Avenue on St. Louis’ south side. There have been a few hiccups to contend with: Student calendar apps weren’t working; the Wi-Fi completely crashed Thursday. 

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Three charter schools are enrolling students this summer before opening their doors for the first time in August.

Two schools will be run by longtime charter operators in St. Louis, while a third is being opened by young Teach For America alumni.

Students walk down a hallway of Lift for Life Academy, which includes an old bank vault door Life Academy. The charter school opened in the former Manufacturer's Bank and Trust Company building in Kosciusko in 2000.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Elizabeth Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school closed in 2013, some of the alumnae and former staff wanted to keep the educational tradition alive with a charter school.

But that building wasn't available and no matter how hard they looked they just couldn't find the right space, said Jane Keuss, who wanted to co-found the planned Tessera Hall Academy.

Jack Krewson hugs Gavin Schiffres after the two won sponsorship to open a charter school in St. Louis' Dutchtown neighborhood Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Two former Teach For America corps members will have a chance to bring a different model of public education to a part of south St. Louis they say is underserved.

The Missouri Charter Public School Commission agreed Wednesday evening to sponsor Kairos Academies’ application for a five-year charter to run a school in the Dutchtown neighborhood. It still needs the state school board to sign off, but earning a sponsor is a major piece in opening a charter school.

Gavin Schiffres and Jack Krewson, right, canvass the Dutchtown neighborhood with members of the school choice advocacy group Children Education Alliance of Missouri June 8, 2017. Schiffres and Krewson want to open a charter school in the neighborhood.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Two young teachers who are hoping to start a charter school in the Dutchtown neighborhood in south St. Louis are knocking on residents’ doors this summer asking for their support.

Teach for America alumni Gavin Schiffres, 23, and Jack Krewson, 24, want to open their school, called Kairos, next year. But first, a university or other state-approved organization needs to agree to be their sponsor.