Bar Talk with John Adkins
Bar Talk: The Musings of Attorneys, Entrepreneurs and Other Interesting People
Podcast Episode 5
Hi, I’m Brad Parker the attorney you want, but hope you never need and this is another edition of Bar Talk, the musings of attorneys entrepreneurs and other interesting people a podcast by people who don’t have to be famous, they just have to be interesting. Each episode will tackle topics big and small, and sometimes tiny, faced by attorneys, entrepreneurs and other fascinating people who know, every day you wake up, It’s a good day. But it takes a little more to make it a great one.
Brad Parker: Welcome. This is another edition of Bar Talk the musings of attorneys entrepreneurs and other interesting people. Today I’ve got the privilege of having John Adkins with us you may or may not know John he is the principal over at Keys High School, which you may or not be may or may not be familiar with. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived in H-E-B for 29 years now and I was unfamiliar with Keys High School, just thought there was Trinity and Bell until a couple of years ago when I went through the H-E-B leadership class. So with that little brief introduction, I want to thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come over here today and do this podcast with me.
John Adkins: Absolutely, excited to be here.
Brad Parker: Well, I really am embarrassed that I never knew more about Keys High School until I went through the H-E-B leadership class and spend a afternoon over their learning a lot about it. I guess it was the year before you became principal, right?
John Adkins: Yeah. This is my first year.
Brad Parker: So is this your first complete year as principal?
John Adkins: Yes.
Brad Parker: Okay and just in general just tell us a little bit. What is Keys High School?
John Adkins: Absolutely. Well, I always say that Keys High School is the high school for H-E-B because we do have students who come from all of the other secondary campuses Junior High’s and also high school. So Bell and Trinity have their zones H-E-B is our zone so but It’s a great place. It’s called a credit recovery high school, you know, a lot of times. I’ll say I’m the principal of Keys and they say oh that’s where the bad kids go. That’s it. Absolutely false. That’s false the kids that come to keys. I’m sure we’ll talk about this are at risk. I mean, they’re kind of at risk to falling through the cracks not getting their diploma becoming a Dropout. So we’re kind of the their last hope to get their diploma. So it’s exciting kids come to us from different walks of life. Lots of different just incredible life stories of why they’re behind in their credits. And why they need to come to keys to get caught up and they have two options after that. They can graduate with us and it’s on a it’s called a foundations diploma. It’s 22 credits instead of 26 at Bell and Trinity only difference is that they have to go in straight into a trade school military or like Tarrant County College Junior College.
Brad Parker: Well, I do want to dive into a little bit more but first how many other school districts in the state have a program similar to keys from what I’ve heard It’s quite a few.
John Adkins: It is quite a few because of just I guess Society now with so much to so many other different things were kids just go through stuff and get behind a loser credits. There has to be away from the ketchup. But I’ve partnered with a group down in Mansfield called The Phoenix Academy and it’s kind of the perfect thing because our mascot is a Phoenix. We did we didn’t plan it. It just happened that way and so it’s pretty fun. We play off of each other but they do the same thing that we do. Yeah.
Brad Parker: Well, it’s it is a miracle are saying Miracle. It’s Very uplifting and just fulfilling type story that I felt when I went through and saw more about the program. I again, I was a little embarrassed. I didn’t know about it, but to have this safety net for the kids that fall through the traditional ice cream rule is just amazing and what really impressed me to was hearing the stories about some of the kids and the links to which they go through to get through the program and they get to kind of run at their own pace so to speak and that’s The interesting but before we get into that whole bunch, why don’t we talk a little bit about you?
John Adkins: Oh boy.
Brad Parker: Well, I know that one thing that you and I hit it off real quick was a were both UT grads.
John Adkins: Absolutely. Hook ‘em Horns.
Brad Parker: Hook ‘em Horns little something for the football team. Can we have come on?
John Adkins: Coach Herman we’re rooting for you.
Brad Parker: We are rooting for you but tell me a little bit. I mean, did you grow up in this area? Are you from here?
John Adkins: Well, actually I’m a not a military brat, but I’m what’s called a GTE brat, which is now, you know Verizon, so I was born in San Angelo, Texas and West, Texas and we just lived there through my third grade year. My dad got transferred to Connecticut. So we moved to Connecticut and to Indiana and then to Colleyville. So I’ve been in Colleyville since 1981. So my eighth grade year,
Brad Parker: So were you a product of Colleyville High School.
John Adkins: No back then your high school were my neighborhood was is was a H-E-B. So I’m a product of H-E-B. My wife’s a product of H-E-B. My two daughters are products of H-E-B, so it’s a great place. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Brad Parker: Well, it is a great place both. My daughter’s went to Trinity and of course all the H-E-B schools here. Growing up and it has been a great deal Glenn Garden, Harwood then then Trinity and it was fun.
John Adkins: Fantastic programs.
Brad Parker: Well, it’s so many of the kids to it seemed like stay throughout the entire process. We’ve got kids that I remember from kindergarten they were coming over now, so it’s great place, but what got you involved in teaching?
John Adkins: Well, my mom was a teacher but I would help her out in the summer times because we divorced family and so, you know kind of have a little rougher background, so we’d spend the Summer of my mom and I would help her run the mimeograph machine. No one ever remembers what that is, but it was a hand-cranked thing. I’d help crank out some worksheets and stuff for so I kind of got my first introduction there. But to tell you the truth teaching was not first on my radar my goal in life was to be a fighter pilot for the Marine Corps and but I when I went at 18, I joined the reserves was going to go to UT join the reserves and then after college OCS become a pilot all that good stuff, but I found out in my physical when I was 18 that I Colorblind and so that kind of changed my my path and so ended up choosing to be a I like the weather and so I chose to be a ballistic meteorologist for the Marine reserve which means I would float balloons and test the atmosphere for the big artillery guns to fire through so that’s kind of my made my way into that kind of crazy. So when I’m at UT, to be honest with you, I was I was lost but when for my sister Amy, she’s sisters right above me and the fourth of four. I do have Younger stepsister but of the Adkins kids I was 4 of 4 and Amy help kind of raised me and so she’s like Johnny got to fix- she’s at UT with me- she was ‘you got to figure this out’. What what do you like and I said, well, I do like weather and things like that. She goes try geography. My world is never the same and so got into geography wanted to be a mapmaker for the CIA couldn’t be colorblind. And so there’s that door closed again and but all during that time I just felt like the Lord is present was leading me leading me somewhere. I just haven’t figured it out yet. I went to Seminary spent some time there figured out that wasn’t it and then I figured out you know what the ministry feel that I may be looking for is in the public schools. And so that’s where I landed ended up getting a job in 1995 at Central Junior High School, which is just across the parking lot from Keys High School. So knew all about it. And then I’d say about ten years ago. My heart started just bending towards Keys high school.
Brad Parker: So well that Bedford Junior High. Did that used to be Trinity? I mean Bell? Did that that complex used to house Bell?
John Adkins: Yeah, Keys is. Keys is the original LD Bell. I believe we finally figured out it was built in I think 1957. So we’re in a pretty old building but it’s a classic. I love that building. Yeah.
Brad Parker: Well, so you graduated from UT. You got your Masters at the Southwester…
John Adkins: South Western Seminary. Yep.
Brad Parker: And then I was a little confused. When were you in the Marines?
John Adkins: So I was a Marine reservist. Okay, so I entered in my actually my junior year my dad sign. Me so I could get in early back then. It was called the delayed entry program. I don’t know if it still exists today, but I was in the Marine reserve stayed there for four years blew out my knee being stupid at UT. And so that kind of sent me on a different path.
Brad Parker: Wait. Being in college and stupid?
John Adkins: Yeah, especially at UT
Brad Parker: Yeah, I’m so surprised!
John Adkins: And those things don’t go together right just playing pickup football blew out my ACL so just just goofiness, but it’s always say it’s like you said Miracle earlier. That’s what I feel. I like it is because all the things that have happened to me in my life have led me to this moment. If I hadn’t blown up my knee where I’d be, you know, maybe not here. You don’t know. So just you know, just God uses all things for his glory and I think this is this is part of his plan and I feel it. So
Brad Parker: Well when you when you went to Bedford Junior High 1995, what were you teaching?
John Adkins: Yeah, I was at Central Junior High.
Brad Parker: Oh, Central Junior High
John Adkins: Don’t confuse us with the Bedford Broncos.
Brad Parker: I’m sorry. It is Central. Yeah
John Adkins: When I came when I moved here so that maybe where you got it, but it’s Junior high and I have taught every social studies there. I’ve Texas history US History World Geography my last probably 12 years of solid World Geography. That was my major was in college, right? And I was also a coach started out as a free coach just volunteering my time because I knew it might is neat way to just be with kids, you know in a different thing than just a classroom and so started out as a girl’s coach and then moved to the guy side. So I’ve literally coached every sport at the junior high level except for hurdles. So done, everything else.
Brad Parker: Even pole vaulting?
John Adkins: I did pole vaulting and I’m glad there’s not a camera here because no one would believe it. But I actually, the guy had took over for was actually a pole vaulter in college, but he was moving on to help train his wife for the Olympics. She was a pole vaulter and so he made me pole vault and I- it was the scariest experience in my entire life. I got a but I did it once and never did it again, but I was able to coach it. So there you go.
Brad Parker: How fun. Well, where did you get your interest into trying to help the kids at keys? I mean did you decide you wanted to go to keys and direct your path that way or did kind of find you?
John Adkins: Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s a little bit about myself. Like I said, I’m from a divorced family. There’s alcoholism and my family I don’t want to throw either my parent under the bus, but that was prevalent in our family so rough, rough times. They’re so emotional abuse things like that, but those Again, I don’t hold anybody response for that. I don’t want anybody feel bad about that. It created scars for me that I look at and say that’s where God led me through that time and then and help direct my path. And so I’ve always kind of had a sense for that. So lack at church been in missions with the Sioux reservation in North Dakota been in missions in Mexico. So we’re dealing with poverty with dealing with alcoholism drug abuse things like that that I had experienced. And so again just it’s kind of cool where the path is lead you and over at Central Junior High, you know, I’m across the parking lot from Keys kind of knew what was going on over there, but it’s been about I want to say 10 to 12 years ago. At church we did prayer walks around schools and always noticed because I was again I was right next door. So I’d always prayer walk Central but no one ever signed up to prayer walk Keys. And so I said no, I’m going to start prayer walking Keys High School. And so I would do that every year and I would you just walk around. Campus and asking God to bless everybody’s gonna go through those doors, whatever they’re going to go through, you know didn’t really know the people at the time June Jacoby who actually was one of my principles that Central and she’s actually told me I should be an administrator. So crazy the lady who kind of Miss Keyes High School told me I should be an administrator so pretty neat. So that’s kind of the Legacy thing Legacy piece there. So I just kept filling my heart bending towards towards Keys, but I was at Central for my whole career 24 years. Up to last year 24 years and you know early on if I always want to be the principal of key. Our Central principle is Central but after prayer walking things my heart just started to bend towards this type of student. And so I said, I finally got to the point where I said, you know, I don’t go anywhere else unless I’m the principal of Keys High School and here I am.
Brad Parker: Well, did you have involvement with the kids from Keys before you went over there?
John Adkins: Not really. I easily could have been a keys kid. Just my upbringing and plus. I just don’t like and a lot of kids today. They’ll tell me I’m like why you Keys. Tell me your story like I don’t like the big schools too crowded and I was that way I was I’m very much like this is this is weird for me. To be honest with you to be on this podcast was I like to be kind of back in the shadows and things like that. But when I have to talk about Keys, hey, give me the spotlight. Give me the microphone because I love this place and I’m going to preach it’s goodness for the rest of my career. So but yeah, it’s just through those times mission trips my life things like that. I could have been a Keys kid my wife raised in. And some emotional abuse from an alcoholic parent could have been a Keys kid. And so it’s always just kind of been you know, just in my heart just a natural now just a natural fit.
Brad Parker: Well, I guess during your career. You probably had seen some kids drop off
John Adkins: Oh, absolutely.
Brad Parker: The grid so to speak. Did they wind up or did you ever know?
John Adkins: Several wound up at keys?
Brad Parker: Yeah. Well, were you involved in the administrative side while you were at Central or?
John Adkins: Yeah, I was the last five years. I was an assistant principal. So at 19 years as a teacher and coach and then the last five years. I was an assistant principal.
Brad Parker: How much arm wrestling did you have to do to get the principal job?
John Adkins: None.
Brad Parker: None. Is that right?
John Adkins: Thank you. Just a perfect fit. It had come open about three years ago. When Jan Joseph who was a two out of great principle in front of me. It came open and I applied for it. I mean, I was just trying to get interview because you know, I was at that point. I was 2 years assistant principal. I didn’t need to be a principle that point right and they’re like, no you don’t have any secondary. Experience and so then when it when it came up in this time, I just I just felt like I just named it and claimed it man. I just felt like it was where I was supposed to be. I was getting that feeling and that’s where my heart was being tugged and it just it just worked out just worked out. Well the natural ever since.
Brad Parker: Yeah. Absolutely.
John Adkins: I love it there and how the bond with the kids it’s great. I mean you go in and you know, there’s always going to be some some challenges because you’re the kind of new guy in a just adjusting to some of the things because I’m going from a really a junior Hive 1200 kids wear. In my alphabet I would take care of, you know least 600 kids to a campus where I’m anywhere from 75 to 90 kids. So it’s been great because it’s been a little more personable. Yeah, so that’s been nice.
Brad Parker: Do you have a relationship with each and every one of those or?
John Adkins: What I try when every student comes in and their first day there they talk with me we talk about some of the non-negotiables a dress code policy a attendance policy of foam policy because I tell them everything we do at keys. I’m trying to prepare. You for the world when you leave keys, right and every job you have is going to have some sort of electronics policy every job you have is gonna have a dress code every job you have is going to have their Goin once you at work and not be tardy. So there’s the three non-negotiables, but they fill out a card for me and it tells me they tell me what their goal is for Keys High School and it tells me a goal when they leave keys high school because we do a lot of focus groups of putting a lot of focus groups and things like that to where let’s say you have a kid that wants to be a welder. Well we can bring in a master welder and we can bring in all the kids want to be welders into there and they can get a touch from that person and then we can get them a field trip over to the welding shop and see if that’s really what they want to be. So everything we do is focus on getting them ready for their next step.
Brad Parker: One of the things I want to ask you about was the relationship that you have with the kids. You mentioned that you kind of have this interview process with them at the beginning. But what’s your what’s your touch points with them throughout the process?
John Adkins: Well, my idea is to get in I try to get into every class every day and just and sometimes the teachers think I’m in there looking. No. I’m really not I Win and just make sure just have conversations kids. I’ll lean down. Hey, what are you working on today? Talk me through this, you know man, I had a hard time with that especially math when I go to the math classes. I mean I had a hard time with that how you doing on it? You know, just just having a conversation.
Brad Parker: Yeah, and I guess it works well because they respond to you.
John Adkins: We’re trying. We’re working.
Brad Parker: Yeah, that’s just incredible, you know, one of the things that we kind of touched on it the very beginning though, but was how is this different than traditional belt? Or Trinity or high school? What sets Keys apart not necessarily from other schools like it in the state, but just from those typical Traditional High School?
John Adkins: Pretty much the biggest. I mean if you want to look at it academically, the biggest difference is the diploma at Trinity. Like I said in Trinity and Bell a 26 credit distinguish, I think diploma for the state with us. It’s 22, so we have a few extra clouds are few less classes that we can take. And again, the only difference is they have to start out a trade school, military or our junior college, but you know, it’s perfect for me because I look back on my career. I should not have been at the University of Texas in 1986. I should have probably been at Tarrant County junior college at that time. Yeah, It would help me out a lot.
Brad Parker: So you might not have busted your knee though.
John Adkins: Yeah, maybe not you never know but good point.
Brad Parker: But the curriculum is a little bit different there from the little different from the but the pace is a lot different.
John Adkins: Yeah, pace is definitely different. I like it Trinity and Bell yet always say we live by the trimester calendar. But we don’t live by the trimester schedule. So it Keys we have a trimester calendar just like Bell and Trinity but for us our kids are working more kind of on their own teachers definitely facilitator. So the students kind of work at their own pace to a certain limit. So let’s say it Bell and Trinity their courses go 12 weeks at ours. We want them to get finished when 8 and 10 and then because as soon as they finish that course, we roll them to their next course of they need they don’t have to sit the rest of that trimester in that classroom twiddling their thumbs we can put them in another class that they’re working towards terms of diploma. So.
Brad Parker: Well, that’s what I thought. I understood going through some of the observations that I had was that if the if the student can complete the class in three weeks, they can complete the class in three weeks and then they move on because right they could come in there and if they went through the traditional high school program, it may take them two years. Whereas if they got into Keys at maybe they’re out in six months, nine months.
John Adkins: Yeah. There’s actually a story. I use it was young lady. That was there last year and I remember I wasn’t there last year, but her sister story carries through she started begin the year zero credit. She graduated before May in one year. She was focused. You know what she wanted to do. And then I think the story goes that before even graduation in the end of May. She’d already gotten into dental hygienist school and was cruising through that and so she actually came back and talked at our career fair in October that we have every October as a former student. But as a she’d already finished her A dental hygienist so she’s a very focused individual so it can be done. You can finish it as fast as you want to finish it, but we’re still following the teks which is an assessment righteous kills for the state. They’re still getting the knowledge. They need they’re still taking tests. I mean, we’re still doing stuff that a normal, you know High School does they’re just doing it a little quicker pace.
Brad Parker: How did the students rate on the on the testing the standardized testing versus those that are at Bell and Trinity.
John Adkins: Well on The Descent, so there’s December star which is kind of your retest. Okay, or if they miss a test they take the star and December. We had a we had great gains from last year. It’s really good and we’re performing as well. If not better in areas with other schools. Not just Bell and Trinity, but others other than the state.
Brad Parker: Yeah, how did the students with the kids get into Keys? I mean what qualifies them to be able to go right?
John Adkins: Well, the basic ones are you have to be at least 16 you have to usually be your second time through ninth grade. So it means you’re behind. And so that’s kind of the first the first step. And so usually it’s with the they go with their counselor helps them decide a keys might be a good place for you. There’s an online application they fill out that application and then like tomorrow, I have application committee. We all we all get together. Look at applications. See if there are fit for keys. And then if there’s some things that might be borderline, we have an extra little addendum we work through and we set goals for that student. And so when we meet with them say, hey, we’ll let you in the keys. Can you live by these extra things we For you to do and if they do then they welcome home.
Brad Parker: Well, you know, I know what I went to high school. I actually went to summer school every summer so I could graduate a year early because I knew I wasn’t gonna last for years. No way I needed to get out right because it wasn’t the right climate for me. And I’ve always had the impression that the students at keys for whatever circumstances were involved in their life and they’re learning progress it recessional High School just wasn’t right for them. And you said there were the troubled kids. Maybe they’re trying. Doubled in some way but that doesn’t mean that they don’t Excel and really succeed. Once they get into Keys, right?
John Adkins: Yeah. And the thing is that what I love about the Keys kid is that they have a lot on their plate outside of school, but yet they come in school and they knock it out which is so they’re to me they’re performing much higher much better than students in a normal situation. I’ll give an example of a young lady who went her babysitter sick and what Our babysitter her mom. So they had the flu go through their family the other day are the other week. So for about a solid week, she brought her baby to school. We set her up in an office got her online on some odysseyware courses let her work so she could have her baby there instead of staying at home and missing that week of school. She came we set it up made it where she could so works. You mean you have someone else. She’s a mom doing her schoolwork and then getting it done and getting it done at a high level. She’s really good.
Brad Parker: So is it the counselors at the at the local schools that that see these kids and they go Go, you know what? They might be a good fit and looking?
John Adkins: Absolutely. Yeah, we work very closely with our counselors my counselor. I got to give props out to Dana Cox is top-notch world-class. She’s the best counselor in my opinion in the district because she is so many spending so many different plates with these kids because just think about it again most counselors have to change schedules on the trimester. She’s changing them daily. And so, you know, so like I think last just six weeks grading period she changed over a hundred and we had a hundred 70-something courses finished I think so. Those are all changes in the schedule. So I mean she’s awesome, but she works very closely with the other counselors.
Brad Parker: Yeah across the cross street District. So all the counselors know are they know what kind of students would be good at Keys would you know because I guess some kids just they just bail out other kids bailout because of circumstances in life, but they really they just need another chance. Another opportunity. And they’re not marching to the necessarily the same drummer that the other kids are they just need the flexibility.
John Adkins: That keeps a provide right and a lot of kids work, you know for working basically full-time jobs. I’ve had several students that the leave straight from school at 357. They’ll go to their job starting at 4:30. They’ll close won’t get home to 1:30 2:00 o’clock in the morning then get back to school the next morning. So there were living real life full-time.
Brad Parker: Yeah on both sides inside 16 17 18 years old.
John Adkins: Yeah,
Brad Parker: What’s the oldest student that you have at Keys?
John Adkins: We take him up to 19. I had a couple of 20 year old with a turn. I think they turn 20 when they were at Keys state of Texas said you don’t have to educate and pass their 19th birthday, but there are some cases where if they’re if they’re working hard.
Brad Parker: They’re working towards their goal progressing then you know, you’re not going to keep them for finish.
John Adkins: There’s a place there. Yeah, I won’t say hey, happy 19th birthday. Goodbye. Yeah, you know, so I had one whose great story. I knew him at Central. I’ve known him since its. Seventh grade year, he was 20 years old. Yeah, he just turned 20 years old in August. I think it was and he came and he said coach Atkins. Do you remember say absolutely. I remember you he goes. Let me tell you my life story. I said sure let me let me hear it and he’s you know, he had basically dropped out of school is working as a roofing contractor working on roofs. But some happen is life hanging with the wrong people got shot in the hospital. He told his mom, I’m going to go back. I’m going to finish school and so obviously at that age belt. It is not an option and so he comes the keys and finishes up and got his diploma. So it’s you know, that’s that’s the stories that we have and that’s that’s what I love. So I love being there. You know, that’s what you talked about miracles earlier. Yeah, we have Miracle stories every day.
Brad Parker: Yeah, I can only imagine that well you feel it when you walk down the hall I you just feel it.
John Adkins: I’m a man. I cry all the time. I’m a big softie now. Hopefully my students don’t listen to this. They don’t need to know that I’m a softie.
Brad Parker: What, you know, what are the requirements that That you have that you impose on the on the students to if they want to be part of the program. They want to get an opportunity. What do you ask of them?
John Adkins: Yeah. I mean really- it’s to come to school. I mean my biggest wants a problem at challenge is truancy. Okay, and just this idea of their truant at Bell and Trinity. They come to the Keys and magically they’ve they’re no longer truant. That’s not the case. They’re still going to be truant. So working through that making a plan making goals like today we had the most Proved award for the last 21 days we’ve put in a lot of incentives in place. And so we had a student that was absent 11 times less over the last 21 days and so he gets a prize which is good. You know, we need to reward that. Yeah, because again there I mean there’s lots of life situations. We have homeless kids and different things that are they’re working through to get their diplomas.
Brad Parker: Well, I guess you have a pretty special group of teachers.
John Adkins: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about that. Um, and it’s incredible. I mean like I, I knew about these a lot of these teachers but I didn’t know about these teachers until I got to spend time with them and it’s an incredible staff. I’ve always heard, you know, it’s a great staff, you know, you’re stepping into a wonderful opportunity and Mrs. Joseph was not lying. I’ve always said if it fails it Keys it’s my fault because I have incredible students incredible staff would want to be anywhere else. I mean they have a heart lay the same Hartford kids that I do. It’s very obvious. Is there a waiting line? Oh, yeah. So like my boss said You if you ever have an opening, you’re like a CEO Headhunter. He said go get who you want. He said because people will be lined up for those jobs. Yeah.
Brad Parker: Well, I was looking on the website and I think I if I’m not mistaken the average experience level of your teachers. There’s like 17 years or something?
John Adkins: Easily and I think the majority I don’t have an exact percentage, but I think the majority have been teachers of the year on their campus. We’ve had a last year of to time District teacher of the year and Miss Gibson. So just I mean just absolutely world class. And so yeah, it’s a great place to be.
Brad Parker: And do they teach me I guess you have different subject areas just like every other.
John Adkins: Oh, yeah for sure but they’ll have those different subject areas in the same period and so I like to always take like coach Henderson. He was at Bell forever basketball coach friend of mine for a long time. So I just lucked and he’s in the same campus but his classroom on a on an average period will have World Geography a World Geography be economics a Genomics be so you could have four classes going at the same time in a class period and that’s that’s pretty much across the campus English. It’s usually just that like English 3A 3B. But yeah by far there’s there’s multiple classes going on within a class. Yeah.
Brad Parker: How do the students and kids that do they do they bond? Do they find a lot of yeah, it’s camaraderie with one another?
John Adkins: Yeah. Whenever a student graduates. They write a reflection piece and almost every time. It’s like a feels like a family here. Yeah, and so, you know, do we have drama? Yeah, but families have drama sure. So yeah, it’s just it’s just a normal part of the process, but overall, I think I think they all get along really well.
Brad Parker: Well, how would you look at the graduation rate from the standpoint of the the kids that come in and complete the program? I mean you were mentioned that they could go back and graduate with their class or
John Adkins: Yeah, there’s two options- two options. They can stain graduate with us, or they can kind of get caught up and go back to the traditional High School better. Unity and what I found is a lot of times the students will have the idea that they want to go back to Bill and Trinity, but they fall in love with keys and they graduate with keys. So last year, I think the graduated a hundred and fifty one I believe is a number right now. We’re just entered the third trimester. We just graduated. I believe number 72 so not quite on that track, but still graduate and a lot of kids and give them hope that they may not have had before.
Brad Parker: What kind of percentage of the kids are those coming in versus those that get out with with a degree. What’s that percentage?
John Adkins: We ask in a non-math guy. I don’t have a percentage for you, but it’s high. It’s high. Yeah, I guess those so we’ve gone through we’ve probably gone through. Oh, I’d say probably 60% of our kids who started the year of graduated. That’s probably a fair number. Yeah. Yeah, so it’s just it’s a revolving door. So it’s hard to give a percentage number because they’re graduating all the time all the time. Yeah.
Brad Parker: So do you have different? I mean, do you have set ceremonies and if you graduate, I mean if you finish your curriculum five weeks ago, then you come back for the graduation
John Adkins: Yeah, there is a graduation full graduation everybody, you know is invited back to it’s the last day of school in May but we have What’s called the walkouts and so a kid when he graduates the say I had a kid graduate today on Fridays they walk out so they get cap and gown they got all their pictures made and then at 3:45 we get on the Moment say Hey, you know Joe Bob is graduating today. Come on out. We’ll stop class. Everybody comes out. We clap everybody claps and we clap them out. So it’s a tradition and it’s an awesome tradition and not many dries at least for me and the staff. Yeah, so it’s pretty awesome. Especially when those kids, you know, we’re definitely this was their last chance when they do it. It’s just it’s awesome. It’s incredible the sense of accomplishment.
Brad Parker: I guess is really present with the with the studio.
John Adkins: Yeah. It’s amazing when the parents. Up there like I don’t think he’s going to make it. This is you know, incredible. I mean, she’s I mean, it’s just weights lifted off our shoulders and just you can just see the positivity going into the next steps of life.
Brad Parker: How many how many teachers do you have out there?
John Adkins: I have I’ll have a total staff of 25 that includes support staff. So I think we have 15 teachers.
Brad Parker: And how many how many students?
John Adkins: We typically have- my ideal number is 95 and so we’re getting back up to that because we’ve graduated quite a few so start of this week. I think we’re like 75 and we just Got five six new and gestured a 5 News Sunday at 11:00. So we’re getting back close to my number that I like.
Brad Parker: So that’s about a lot of six seven ratio.
John Adkins: Oh, yeah, it’s low look for us to do what we do. It has to stay low. Yeah, if we got to 15 people in a classroom, it would not even negate what we try to do lose that connection and that Bond.
Brad Parker: Yeah, how long will the kids typically I know that it can range widely from how long they’ll be there before they graduate but do you see a kind of a pattern or something?
John Adkins: Well, like I say, it depends on the student, you know, like I say we try it we want them to finish their classes between eight and ten weeks which for some that pushes the like 11:00, maybe 12:00, you know per course so normally a student can come in and finish our program and a year and a half. Yeah. Usually
Brad Parker: Yeah. So what are your goals as president when our president? When you become president.
John Adkins: I know it’s not a job I would like!
Brad Parker: I know it’s principal of Keys. What kind of goals or aspirations do you have?
John Adkins: Well, that’s a great question. I don’t really see retiring anytime soon. I’ve promised him five years, but I see myself in your at least 10 and then my daughter’s go to Dallas Baptist University which which I love that University of falling in love with the university so doctor right if you listen to this, I would love to be recruiter for DBU. So that’s what I’d like to do in my retirement or work on my PhD and do some Professor learning and Occasionally department?
Brad Parker: You talked about earlier that people always consider keys where that’s where the troubled kids show. So how strong is that stigma?
John Adkins: It’s I think it’s getting better and I’m not huge on social media my good at it. So that people that helped me like my daughters. Thank you, girls. So just getting the positive word out. So like we’re on Instagram Facebook Twitter and so like we put stuff out all the time. So students of the week, you know best attendance of the week just the fun. The things that we’re doing at keys and that’s another thing too because there are numbers just how we are like a family we can do fun things like Friday. We’re going to have a faculty staff kickball game. We’ve had a faculty staff basketball game and spring it gets better. We do cookouts and just have family time. So it’s just it’s awesome stuff. So they just again just if your family is not so great, you know at home. You’ve got a family here. I have signs above the door when they come in you can says enter peacefully and then on the back side says exit victoriously, so that’s what we’re trying. Under you know provide a safe place for those kids to come every day a calm place because their life sometimes doesn’t have it. But they need to know that the through those doors. There’s victory over whatever you’re facing. There’s Victory on the other side.
Brad Parker: So what do you see as the biggest challenge ahead of you with Keys?
John Adkins: Again, probably truancy just making kids buy into the hey, you have to be here. And again, I always connect it to any conversation. I have to have I’ll ask the student what would happen to you in the job if you did this in a job and you know, I say well fire does it exactly so we’ve got to make that change now before you know becomes reality on the other side because I want you to be the best employee want to be the best employer. I want you to be the best dad wife, you know husband father, whatever. There’s so much more out there. Yes is the education and diploma important. Absolutely but being a great citizen on the other side of it is is just as important to me.
Brad Parker: You mentioned that teaching was natural and keys kind of fell into it because Of your desire to have wanted to be in the ministry and you feel like this is a natural step for you.
John Adkins: This is my mission field. Absolutely.
Brad Parker: And what sense are what where are you being fulfilled the most?
John Adkins: I just I think time with kids just hearing their stories and then seeing the victory on the other side of it when that student I meet with them when they first come to school we get their goal sheet and it’s actually a little card. I keep stuck up on a magnet board my office when they graduate at grad On it and put it on the grad side very simple, but it just means a lot to me. But yeah seen that Victory saying hey man, I don’t think this kid is going to make it. Look I just wrote grad on his card and it goes to the graduation side. So that’s awesome that it’s tough.
Brad Parker: Yeah. In closing up what would you like to say? What would you like people to know that we maybe haven’t talked about today that that you feel strongly about.
John Adkins: You know, it’s been a great conversation. I think we’ve hit all the stuff it just a reminder that It’s not bad kids. Kids having troubled lives are not bad kids and I don’t believe in bad kids. I’m a mentor of mine Mark Garner’s his name. He’s the one of the pastors at first Hurst. He said you’re always one choice away from a totally different life. And so some of those kids have experienced that one choice. And so they’ve made bad some of us have made bad decisions. We’ve all made bad decisions. I’ve don’t have physical scars, but I have scars my life that I know I’ve made a bad decision. You and I can see that that’s where God led me a different direction. So that’s kind of what I try to do. It Keys is to say hey, you’ve made a bad choice. Let’s turn that scar into something good and this is how you can do it. And so, you know, just just directing them trying the right path. We have a lot. We have a great relationship with the military recruiters that’s been new. So given them just my keyword for Keys High Schools options. I want to give every kid coming out there an option. Yeah. Nothing against Hurst you listen, Bedford, Texas This but there’s a bigger world out there go see it and if you want to come back and settle here and make great changes do it. But hey, there’s another world outside of Euless, Texas.
Brad Parker: One of the things that I’ve come to learn about the kids and the families and just our community is that we have a pretty challenging population here who struggles economically and it’s probably one of the higher ones in the state from the school district standpoint and what the school district as a whole is doing is extremely remarkable with the kids in the students and the everything that we’ve got to offer here. It’s just amazing the fantastic job that they’ve done and what you’re doing over at Keys is just the I guess the sugar the icing on the cake.
John Adkins: It’s just amazing o know H-E-B is is fantastic and they have blessed me and trusted me and put me in positions of just success. And yeah, I wouldn’t be where I am today without a without a B I mean, I’m always going to plug a H-E-B just short story. I was in Alabama one time on a mission trip and I had a got a t-shirt on and this guy goes oh H-E-B tell me about that easy. I’ll tell you it’s a greatest bubble. I goes, he goes. Yeah. Just testing you. He goes, I’m actually from like Richardson. I think I know about H-E-B. I said, well then you need to move to H-E-B, but your kids need to be schools because that’s where success is because the things that we’re doing with the demographics that we have and the actor is population we have and You know all that you’d put all the numbers the data together. What we’re doing is meeting or even exceeding the Southlake Carroll of the world. H-E-B is the place to be absolutely it’s a snapshot always say it’s a snapshot of the world. And that’s what we want our kids to be, want to be exposed to the world. H-E-B. Is that is that exposure?
Brad Parker: It’s incredible. Well, I I’ve always admired teachers. I think what you guys do is the front line of for society if we don’t train and teach and educate our Then we’re doomed as a society and what you do is so incredibly important and I appreciate it
John Adkins: And I appreciate it and adopters like you. I mean you’re one of my campus adopters and just helping us out when we need it. You know, you know, what could I say? Come help us, you know, yeah, come on. I’ll walk you I’ll give you all the tours you one. I see the great things that are happening, but no, we appreciate you and what you’ve done for our campus.
Brad Parker: Well, thank you. And again, thank you for your time today and I really appreciate it and I hope everybody listening to this. Has got a whole, brand new perspective and understanding of what goes on at Keys High School.
John Adkins: Thanks.
Brad Parker: Thank you. I’m Brad Parker the attorney you want, but hope you never need and thanks for listening to another edition of bark top. The musings of attorneys entrepreneurs and other interesting people. If you like our show and want to know more, check out our website at Parker Law Firm.com, or please leave us a review on iTunes Spotify or your preferred podcast Outlet. See you next time.