By PERRY ATHANASON
At 13, Kevin Rodriguez is an old soul. He does not talk much, but listens intently. He loves science, math and history, and hopes to be an architect one day. His interest in science, including figuring out how things work and how things change in different environments, sets an interesting parallel against Kevin’s educational experience.
“I’m interested in how houses and buildings are constructed and want to learn more about different designs,” said Kevin.
Growing up, Kevin was a quiet child always keeping to himself and spent a lot of time reading. Kevin attended his neighborhood elementary school and did OK mostly due to his slightly reclusive, yet inquisitive personality, his mom said. As he reached the higher-grade levels, Kevin started witnessing bullying and insolent activities such as vandalism and destruction of school property.
This was something Kevin’s mother, Sylvia Febus, feared because her older son had a similar experience when he was younger. At that time, Sylvia pulled her older son out of the school and enrolled him in a magnet school from which he graduated. But when Kevin had a similar experience, she could not find an easy solution for him.
“His entire demeanor changed,” said Sylvia. “He became even more reclusive than usual. He would not get out of bed in the morning. He started dreading the idea of going to school, and he lost an interest in learning about new things. This was alarming to me because Kevin had always been more of the bookworm in our family.”
Sylvia knew she would have to become her child’s strongest advocate. She needed to make sure Kevin remained interested in school and decided to seek out every available opportunity, even if it appeared to be financially out of reach.
“Kevin likes to argue science with his older brother and father,” said Sylvia. “He has a passion for understanding the world around him,and it broke my heart to see him slip away from that thirst for knowledge.”
Sylvia’s options were dwindling, and time was running out as Kevin was on track to stay in a school that was not meeting his educational needs and interests. Then she found Landmark Christian School in Haines City and even though it was quite a distance from their home in Kissimmee, she felt it was the place for her son.
“I met with this school and was impressed with their curriculum and overall ideas about education – to me the entire experience seemed wholesome,” said Sylvia. “I also loved that Kevin would be exposed to religion,allowing him to explore his own beliefs.”
Sylvia felt this was exactly what she was looking for when charting a course for Kevin’s education. She knew her child, and she knew he would excel in this environment. As a single-income family, the only problem was figuring out how to afford it.
The answer to Sylvia’s prayers came by way of eavesdropping. Another parent overheard her talking about Kevin’ situation at the doctor’s office and politely offered Sylvia information she considered “good as gold.” This is what led Sylvia to the Step Up For Students website and a scholarship.
Kevin is in his third year as a Step Up scholar. He, along with his mom, couldn’t be happier. He was enrolled in the gifted program at his prior school and continues to excel at that level at Landmark Christian School in Haines City, where he is now an eighth-grader.
Kevin realizes now what his mom has done for him. Because of his love of understanding how things change in different environments, he was able to apply this thought process to his own educational experience and appreciates how his mom, and the Step Up For Students Scholarship, has changed his life forever.
“At the time, I did not know why my mom was so involved in getting me into another school. Knowing now what she did to help me makes me very happy that she got me into Landmark. I really like this school,” said Kevin.
“We are so pleased with Kevin’s progress at Landmark that we’ve enrolled our youngest child, Sophia, into its kindergarten program through the Step Up scholarship,” she said.
About Landmark Christian School
Landmark Christian School (LCS) was founded in 1972 as a ministry of Landmark Baptist Church. The school serves children in preschool through 12th grade and is fully accredited by the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (FACCS). LCS has 163 students enrolled for the 2013-14 school year, including 59 Step Up scholars. Tuition is$3,400 per student for grades kindergarten through fifth, and $3,700 for seventh through 12th grades. The school uses the Stanford 10 test to measure academic achievement. Landmark was established to provide a quality education that placed importance on both academics and spirituality and prides itself on offering students individualized attention, solid academics, enrichment classes, such as music, physical education and art, and Bible study.