Traditional public school isn’t for everyone; that’s where programs like Kingdom Life Academy come in.

“God began to show me that there were students, particularly boys, dropping out of school because traditional education wasn’t working for them. It was hard,” says school founder and director Joel Enge. “Nothing was really tangible to them.”

KLA is a privately funded Christian school that focuses on project-based learning for students in grades six through 10. The school has been operational for seven years, but just moved from its former home inside Colonial Hills Baptist Church to its new location at 2804 Garden Valley Road in Tyler. There are 10 students in the program.

The goal of KLA, Enge said, is to educate and equip students with life skills and Christian education that they can take into the workplace. After their sophomore year, students in the program are enrolled in dual credit courses via a local college or technical school.

In 2011, Enge sold his house to start the school.

“God clearly spoke to me about starting this school, and that it was going to cost me everything,” he said. “So, I sold my home, and moved into a travel trailer.”

Kingdom Life Academy’s curriculum focuses heavily on future goals of the students after high school and choosing a career path according to the goals and personality of the student, he said. Some of the classes include Real World Math, Nutrition, Food Science, Project Management and Professional/Career Development.

“They receive a paycheck every week. It’s a mock system, but they can, after paying their bills every week, make purchases,” Enge said.

The school also includes a farm in the back, housing livestock such as a goat and chickens.

“We also have business production,” he said. “Our middle school students sell eggs. We have 53 chickens here at the farm, and they’re responsible for the upkeep and the care, and preparing the eggs for the market.”

The students also receive extensive nutrition instruction, since they are in charge of purchasing and cooking the food they eat at the school.

“We take them to do their shopping, they actually go into the stores with the teachers and we handle the whole process,” Enge said, adding the operation is a “food establishment” and inspected by the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

Student Immanuel Guevara also acts as a community outreach coordinator.

“I go out and see if anyone’s yards need to be cleaned up, or if they’re disabled and can’t do it themselves,” Guevara said. “We try to help out.”

Guevara said some of the things he’s learned through Kingdom Life Academy include the ability to do math in his head, construction work and paying bills. When asked where he would be without Kingdom Life Academy, he said, “Locked up, or probably dead.”

For more information on Kingdom Life Academy, call 903-283-3444.

Digital Multimedia Journalist

Ben Fenton is a digital multimedia journalist that has worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph since 2019. He is from Lindale, Texas and holds a Bachelors in Digital Media and a Masters in Communication.

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