Tammy Ducat will never forget the day two years ago when she and her son Jacob Rogers were attending the neighborhood school’s orientation to meet Jacob’s new teacher. Jacob, then entering fifth grade, had always looked forward to the new school year. But as the two entered his new classroom, Jacob looked around at the other students and suddenly became rigid.
After leaving the school, Jacob began to cry and pleaded with his mother to keep him home. He told her he didn’t want to go to school if it meant he would be in that class. Tammy was baffled by Jacob’s behavior and pleaded for an explanation. After some coaxing, Jacob revealed he was in the same class with boys that bullied him the previous school year.
Tammy immediately requested a meeting with school administrators, hoping that their interference would quell the bullying. But their reactions were disappointing.
“They said ‘kids will be kids’’’, Tammy said. She was assured that the bullying would cease once the boys had more time to adjust to the new school year. Tammy reluctantly agreed to keep Jacob in the class.
But as the weeks passed, the bullying continued and Jacob’s behavior dramatically changed. The once bright and outgoing youngster became sullen and withdrawn. He began displaying flashes of aggression toward his younger brother and sister. Jacob’s report card was littered with Ds and Fs.
Fed up, Tammy asked school officials to transfer her son to a different class but her request was rebuffed. The other fifth-grade classes were overcrowded, school officials said.
It wasn’t until after Jacob’s bully dangled him upside down in the restroom that school officials finally took action. Jacob’s bully was suspended for three days – and at exactly the same time as school was canceled for a coming hurricane. Tammy knew the bullying would start up again once school resumed.
Feeling helpless, Tammy contacted the local law enforcement but was told that since they weren’t called when the incident occurred, they couldn’t interfere.
It was then that Tammy decided to find a different school for Jacob. She contacted her sister, whose children attended Escambia Christian with the assistance of a Step Up For Students scholarship. After learning more about the school and the scholarship, Tammy applied and was approved for both.
Today, Jacob, 12, is a happy and well-adjusted seventh-grader at Escambia Christian School where he attends with his siblings and cousins.
Since arriving at Escambia – where he’s one of 87 Step Up scholars – Jacob is greatly respected by his peers and his grades have improved, said Principal Frank Thomann.
“He’s not the top student in his class, but he’s diligent,” he said.
Jacob, who wants to be an archaeologist, counts history and science among his favorite subjects. He likes that Escambia Christian is small and he’s made good friends.
Most importantly, he’s no longer bullied.
“It’s much more fun and they spend more time with us,” he said. “I like this school.”
About Escambia Christian School
Established in 1964, Escambia Christian School is nestled on seven acres of land on Pensacola’s west side. It serves 140 students in grades pre-K through 8. Student academic progress is evaluated annually using the Stanford Achievement Test. Annual tuition is $4,450.