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Student spotlight

school choice

From held back to no holding back

LAKE CITY, Fla. – Sitting in the principal’s office of her twin sons’ school, Kim Glover pushed aside a couple of strands of wavy, auburn hair and took a breath to compose herself as she recounted the boys’ stunning transformation. “I’ll try not to cry,” she said with her mellifluous Southern drawl. After the family endured a drawn-out, painful divorce, Torey and Trinidy went from failing classroom distractions to model students, from being retained in seventh grade to posting high GPAs. Her boys did the heavy lifting, but Kim says it wouldn’t have been possible without the stable, nurturing environment of Lake...
school choice

Patience, understanding bring scholarship student back from brink

OCOEE, Fla. – The young teacher called, tears choking her words. She wanted to quit. On the other end of the line was Rose Theagene, horrified but not surprised. She knew her youngest son, Darryl Dutervil, was on the verge of expulsion due to escalating behavior problems in first grade at his neighborhood school. “He threw a chair at the teacher, and it almost hit another student,” she recalled. “He was pushing and hitting kids. Parents were complaining. It was very bad. At the meeting, I just said I would take Darryl out of the school to save everyone the trouble.” Rose...
school choice

The family no one knew was homeless

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Just when Ruthanne Dumas thought her life couldn’t fall apart any further, she got the biggest scare of it. A steady financial decline had left her and her two youngest daughters, Isabella and Gabriella, homeless. The girls had recently started at a new private school, thanks to education choice scholarships. And then a sudden illness landed Isabella in intensive care. Doctors thought she might have leukemia. “It was horrible,” Ruthanne recalled, her voice trembling. After it turned out to be just a virus and the raw fear and panic had subsided, Isabella’s new principal and teacher arrived. They brought...
Gardiner scholarship

Displaced Puerto Rican family desperate for Gardiner Scholarship

TAMPA – Aleena Martinez bounded into her family’s small, sparsely furnished living room as if it were an inflatable bounce house. A pair of blue rabbit ears crowned her dark curls and a menagerie of stuffed animals filled her arms. The 12-year-old abandoned the animals on the couch and ran to the kitchen, where she began rummaging in the cabinets. She returned waving two boxes of cake mix – one vanilla, one brownie. “We’ll bake one, then we’ll put them together,” Aleena told her mother, Damaris Lorenzo. “It’s science!” she announced with enthusiasm. Aleena had just arrived home from her neighborhood school...

Once frustrated and angry, student finds inspiration at Jacksonville charter school

JACKSONVILLE – Landon Waters was unhappy about moving from Philadelphia to North Florida with his mother and older twin brothers in 2014. His mood didn’t improve when he started attending kindergarten in his new neighborhood school. He wasn’t a bad student; he just didn’t like school very much. His mom, LaTanya Urquhart, said he was more interested in playing with pencils and daydreaming than listening to his teacher. He often threw tantrums or cried when she dropped him off in the morning. LaTanya could see why Landon was struggling. “The school was so rigid and restrictive,” she said. “When they were done...

Once bullied, now safe, happy, and thriving

BELLE GLADE, Fla. – When she’s in class, the look on Armani Powe’s face is solemn, focused. She doesn’t harden her gaze intentionally. It happens naturally. “When it comes to my grades,” she says, “I get really serious.” Armani, 12, turns quiet and a little withdrawn when asked about the bullying she endured in second grade at her neighborhood school. “It makes me all sad just to remember it,” she explains with the distance of several years. She doesn’t mind telling the story, though, because she’s happy, safe, and thriving now at a private school. A Florida Tax Credit Scholarship from Step Up...

Step Up scholars sing before Pope Francis

WEST PALM BEACH – A pair of Step Up For Students Florida tax credit scholars took the journey of their young lives recently when they traveled to Italy with the choir from St. Ann Catholic School and participated in the Epiphany Mass, led by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Seventh-grader Adriana Augustine and sixth-grader Amy Vu described an adventure they won’t soon forget. The St. Ann’s Parish Youth Choir performed six times around Italy during an eight-day pilgrimage that began Dec. 29. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” Amy said. “It was fun being around all of the...
school choice

School choice scholarship provided brothers an extended family

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Tyler McDonald, 19, and his brother Preston, 18, stand out in a crowd. Tall and athletic, their breezy, no-worries attitudes are as evident as the sparkle in their hazel-brown eyes. They are All-American, boy-next-door types, the highest of achievers who say they wouldn’t be where they are now – Princeton and Duke, respectively – had it not been for Clearwater Central Catholic High School and the education choice scholarship that made it possible to attend. Going to CCC was about much more than great academics. They initially were raised in a comfortable middle-class home, never wanting. Everything changed seven...