On this episode, redefinED senior writer Lisa Buie speaks with Jessica Bianchi, whose husband, Juan Santana, is a chief petty officer in the Navy and stationed in Jacksonville. Their son, Jan, is a rising freshman on a Gardiner Scholarship at Morning Star School, and their daughter, Gia, attends Christ the King Catholic School.
Bianchi, who had the opportunity to meet Gov. Ron DeSantis and lawmakers at one of two bill-signings for HB 7045, was delighted to learn that Gia will qualify for a Family Empowerment Scholarship under the new law that opens program eligibility to dependents of active-duty members of the Armed Forces regardless of income.
Bianchi talks on the podcast about her efforts to send her son, who is on the autism spectrum, to a district school, why that wasn’t the best fit for him, and how the K-12 state scholarship program allowed her to transfer him to a private school. She also recounts the financial sacrifices the family has made, even with the state scholarship, to afford a Catholic education for both children and how their schools have offered a sense of community often missing in a military family’s life.
“We feel we’re being appreciated for the sacrifices that we do for our country … We do it because we love our country. We do it because we don’t want to feel like all these bad things are going on in the world, and we’re just sitting here waiting for someone to fix our problems. We just feel very appreciated.”
· How Jan’s educational journey began
· How Catholic schools provide a unique sense of community
· How a change in the law governing state scholarships will benefit her family and other military families across Florida
Families interested in applying for education choice scholarships administered by Step Up For Students can learn more here.