By Lisa A. Davis
Meet Layla and Jeremiah Cirino of Kissimmee. They began their academic life attending their neighborhood school, but as the years went by, the school became overcrowded and the environment made learning a challenge for the siblings.
Jeremiah was bullied. Layla faced violence in the classroom. Their mom, Adrienne Cirino, was desperate to find an alternative school for her children, but as a single mother private school seemed out of reach. Then she heard about the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program and applied through Step Up For Students. Soon, Layla’s grades were back to her usual A’s and B’s and Jeremiah was doing better than ever.
“I’m very blessed that Step Up has brought the love of school back to my kids,’’ Adrienne said. “They’re getting an education and I can see the light shining in them. They love to learn. They started going and they just excelled.” Read their full story here.
Welcome to Step Up For Students’ newest way to connect to you: our families, donors and community partners. We’re excited about this new blog and we hope you will join the conversation. We want this blog to be an interactive place for you to learn, become engaged, and yes, maybe even be entertained.
Here you’ll find important information about scholarship news, legislative and program updates, and we’ll give you a closer look at what we do, how we do it and why. We will share stories about our scholars and their families, the schools that are improving our scholars’ lives, and the occupational therapists and others who are working with our unique needs scholars. We will give you behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Step Up organization, the people who make it tick, how we do our work, and why we enjoy it so much. We feel blessed to do work that is so rewarding and enriching.
We will show you how our Public Service Announcements come to life, and what goes into organizing a donor event. We will share advice about how students can be most successful, and spotlight teachers who are helping transform the lives of the children they teach. We’ll introduce you to the folks in our Office of Student Learning who are going into schools and helping educators and parents bridge the gap between home and school in hopes of giving all students a better chance to succeed. We want to get to know you better, and you us. We’re excited to kick this blog off and deepen our relationship with those who have joined us in our quest to provide every child with an equal opportunity to succeed.
As we prepare to start yet another school year, from where I sit the future is bright. This fall about 78,000 students will be using Step Up tax credit scholarships and about 5,000 will be using Step Up Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA). We’ll pay out approximately $465 million in scholarships during the 2015-16 school year, and we’ve rebuilt our online payment system for our PLSA families to help make that process more effective, efficient and easier to use.
I started teaching in Florida in 1977 and I’ve never been more optimistic about the long-term future of education. Parents are becoming more empowered and engaged in their children’s education, and teachers and schools are becoming more sophisticated in meeting the unique needs of each child. We’re also getting better at using technology to help us meet each child’s needs. The days of one-size-fits-all education are ending and we’re moving toward a time when all children will have access to an education that is customized to meet their needs. But while the future is bright, getting there will remain a struggle, which is why we need to stay united in our efforts to help all children. Our intent is to use this blog as one tool to help us work more closely together as we build a better future for all children.
Please join us.
Have a successful and happy 2015-16 school year,
Step Up For Students President