school choice

Dawn Everly’s daughter Debbie.

Editor’s note: Each Saturday in September, redefinED is dipping into the archives to revisit a compelling story written from the perspective of a parent advocate. In today’s post, mother Dawn Everly reveals how she found a perfect fit for her daughter at a private school with help from a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.

My daughter Debbie is a wonderful 7-year-old with an old soul.

She’s cooperative, creative, compassionate and loving. Debbie is intelligent, articulate, quirky, unique and artistic. She loves crazy knee socks. She doesn’t like crowds and can be very shy at times, especially in new surroundings and with people she doesn’t know.

She makes everyone she meets smile.

We’ve been very lucky in finding educational environments that suit her well. When it was time for Debbie to attend school, I searched everywhere. I did background research on every place we could find, both within our means and outside them for perspective. I am a single mom, and it is a rough go sometimes.

I was getting very discouraged. The places I knew would fit her had either a long wait list, or were so far out of my budget I couldn’t figure a way to make it work. I dreaded the thought of public school, not because the options were necessarily bad but because I knew it wasn’t the right environment for Debbie.

I have two older children, and have plenty of experience with the public school system. One child excelled and one struggled. I wanted an alternative for my youngest. I was afraid the public school system would swallow her, so to speak, and that wasn’t going to work for either of us.

Then a miracle (well, two really) dropped in our laps. We discovered a brand new private school was opening that I KNEW would be a perfect fit – For The Love of Learning. And if I balanced the budget and rearranged some things, it would be doable, no matter how tight. We went to check it out, and Debbie was a perfect fit. We HAD to make this happen.

And then we came across a scholarship administered by Step Up For Students.

I read through all of the information, took a deep breath and applied. When we were approved, I cried tears of joy and relief. My child was going to get the education she deserved.

I am excited to say this is our third year at For The Love of Learning, and we couldn’t be happier. Thanks to the school and Step Up for Students, my youngest daughter is happy, loves school, is learning and growing in a way that is perfect for her.

Debbie has loved every teacher, her environment, and makes friends so easily there. She has quite the following! Debbie is a special child (as they all are!) and we have found her the perfect place. For The Love of Learning has a wonderful mix of Montessori, Waldorf, and home schooling curriculum.

Looking back, I wish I had more knowledge of this type of school earlier, and just maybe my middle child would’ve had an easier time and received what he needed to excel.

We are so thankful for both Step Up for Students and For The Love of Learning private school.

Dawn Everly is a parent in Martin County, Fla. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship is administered by nonprofits such as Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog.

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