Eventually, Jodi Haley said, she had enough. She felt she had no choice but to remove her son Jessie from his neighborhood school.
She was fed up with his failing grades, crushed every time she saw him cry about school, bewildered by the mysterious headaches he came home with every day.
All of that went away when Jessie got back on track at a little Catholic school, where Jodi credits a scholarship for opening the door.
In their town of Frostproof, Jodi said, the neighborhood school just wasn’t working for Jessie, even though it had been a good fit for his three older brothers.
“He was really struggling and it was heartbreaking,” said Jodi, a divorced mother of six who works as a technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “(My fear was) that he would eventually quit school and then go down a bad path.”
At the end of Jessie’s third grade year, school officials told his mom he would have to be retained because he was so far behind. Around the same time, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Jodi knew her son needed help, immediately.
Coincidentally, she came across a flier for St. Catherine Catholic School in nearby Sebring. The principal at the time, Dr. Anna Adam, tested and evaluated Jessie.
Now principal at a Catholic school in New York City, Dr. Adam can vividly recall the anguish on Jessie’s face when she met him. He was sweet and polite, but the uncertainty in his eyes and smile revealed how quiet and painfully shy he could be in the classroom.
“He came in as pretty much a non-reader,” Dr. Adam said. “But I didn’t want to retain him. I think if he would have been retained he would have been absolutely crushed, and we would have lost him. That would have been the end of him. He just would have curled up in a hole and gone away.”
Dr. Adam was confident she and her staff could work with Jessie, and Jodi’s heart soared. Not only had she found the right school, but they also told her about the Step Up For Students scholarship that enabled her to afford the tuition. (Step Up For Students administers Florida’s tax credit scholarship program and publishes this blog.) Continue Reading →