Kokomo High School was named the AP-TIP IN School of the Year. Representing KHS at the award ceremony was Principal Tony Harl, AP-TIP IN Science Teacher of the Year Tom Ferguson, AP-TIP IN English Teacher of the Year Jennifer Scott and guidance counselor Mike Susong. (Herald Photos/Dean Hockney)
Kokomo High School was named the AP-TIP IN School of the Year. Representing KHS at the award ceremony was Principal Tony Harl, AP-TIP IN Science Teacher of the Year Tom Ferguson, AP-TIP IN English Teacher of the Year Jennifer Scott and guidance counselor Mike Susong. (Herald Photos/Dean Hockney)
Kokomo High School has hundreds of trophies in its display cases proclaiming state champs in athletics and extracurricular events. The school also has prominently posted photos and plaques for various academic achievements by students lining its main hallway. On Oct. 6, they added one more – 2-15 AP-TIP IN School of the Year.

“I am very proud to accept this for Kokomo High School,” said KHS guidance counselor Mike Susong, who coordinates the Advanced Placement program at the school. “I am honored to work the group of teachers we have in this program. They work tirelessly and are absolutely the best of the best.”

In a press conference hosted by Kokomo and attended by educators from around the state, Karen Morris, director of Indiana’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentives Program (AP-TIP IN), made the announcement that the Home of the Kats was the top school in the program. She also announced that a pair of KHS educators earned top honors: Jen Scott was named the AP-TIP IN English Teach of the Year while Tom Ferguson was named the Science Teacher of the Year.

This success in the AP classrooms led the College Board to recognize a record number of KHS students for their exceptional achievement on the college-level AP exams, as 49 KHS students earned 2015 AP Scholar Awards, which eclipses the record of 33 set in 2014 after 20 students earned AP honors in 2012. Those numbers have Scott excited.

“I know it is a collaborative effort on all of our parts,” said Scott. “One thing that is significant to me is the program doesn’t just teach us what the College Board expects but it teaches us how to achieve what the College Board expects. I found that was a very cornerstone of what I learned from the AP program and I bring that to my classroom each and every day. And the kids enjoy learning the AP style now, and I appreciate that.”

Kokomo High School joined the AP-TIP IN grant program, as part of Cohort II, during the 2013-2014 school year. Through the program, which is administered for Indiana by the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, KHS participates in year-round initiatives. 

Advanced Placement math, science, and English teachers at KHS receive extensive training and mentoring. Summer training and additional professional development during the year provide AP teachers with deeper content knowledge and the pedagogy required to provide the highest quality instruction. Through the grant, KHS students taking math, science, or English AP courses receive additional “time-on-task” through after-school tutoring sessions, Saturday conferences, and exam preparation.

Kokomo School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald believes these awards confirm that Kokomo High School is among the state’s premier college preparatory high schools.

“From 23 Advanced Placement courses to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program to many dual credit courses, Kokomo Schools are setting the bar high when it comes to these efforts,” said Hauswald. “In just over three years, the number of Advanced Placement credits taken by students has tripled, and the results continue to impress.”

He also praised the Wildkat award winners.

“Much of this is from the hard work of students, but none of this could be possible if it weren’t for amazing teachers like Mr. Ferguson and Ms. Scott,” he said. “I congratulate both of them on the well-deserved recognition. Most importantly, I congratulate KHS students, teachers, staff, and the parents on helping KHS be named an AP-TIP IN School of the Year.”

In 2012-13, the year before AP-TIP started at KHS, 223 students enrolled in math, science and English AP courses, while KHS saw 390 enrollments for all AP classes. This year, KHS had 924 requests for AP course – 590 came in the critical math, science and English courses.

Kokomo administers noted that KHS students are passing AP exams at a much higher rate since the AP-TIP program started. KHS had 79 passing AP scores in math, science, and English during the 2011-12 school year, for a pass rate of 28 percent. After Kokomo High School’s first year of the AP-TIP grant, those passing scores had jumped to 139, for a 40 percent pass rate for math, science and English AP courses. In year two of the grant (2014-2015), KHS eclipsed its year three goal by boasting 191 passing scores in math, science and English AP classes, for a 41 percent pass rate.

“These awards signify that the hard work put forth by Mike Susong and our Advanced Placement teachers is paying off,” said KHS Principal Tony Harl. “These AP teachers’ dedication has led to increased enrollment in AP courses and more students taking the AP exams, as well as more students passing those AP exams. I wish to congratulate, and thank, the KHS AP teachers for their efforts.”