After looking at the school options for her firstborn, Benjamin, Autumn Nelson of Yalaha in Lake County, didn’t like what she saw.
“We wanted an environment that was really nurturing and we just didn’t see that in our neighborhood school,” Autumn said.
The neighborhood school they were zoned for was a D and has since fallen to an F, so she started homeschooling. When it got closer for her younger children, Nathaniel and Meghan, to start school, she rethought that option, too.
“Looking down the pipeline and seeing that I had two more coming up, I knew that it was going to be a little too stressful for me for me to homeschool all three,” Nelson said.
She and her husband, Daniel, started looking at private schools and learned about Step Up For Students school choice scholarships, but at the time students had to attend a public school for a year prior to becoming eligible for the scholarship. The Nelsons obtained a zone waiver for Benjamin, so he could attend a public school outside of his neighborhood for a year and become eligible for Step Up. This one was rated a C.
“He cried every day. Every day,” Autumn recalled.
Nathaniel, however, was able to start at kindergarten at Liberty Christian Prep School in Tavares with the help of a Step Up school choice scholarship. The family immediately fell in love with the school, even Benjamin, who looked forward to starting there the following year. He would attend fairs at the school and was very impressed the teachers knew his name even before he began attending.
When he could start at Liberty in third grade, everything changed for Benjamin.
“His first day at Liberty he said he loved his teacher, and he wanted to stay at the school forever. As a mom, that sealed the deal for me,” said Autumn.
Now all three of her children attend the school and are doing well.