MYcroSchool offers a fresh start

MycroSchool
Pinellas MYcroSchool, a tuition-free public charter high school, blends online and classroom learning to help you graduate and achieve your goals! They serve students 16-21 years old, grades 9-12

 

BY CINDY SWISHER, Neighborhood News Bureau

ST. PETERSBURG – One out of seven 16-24-year olds in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area are not working or in school.

MYcroSchool is a tuition-free, public charter high school that exists to change those numbers by re-engaging recent dropouts, as well as at-risk students still in high school.

Kelvin Neal was one of those students.

Neal enrolled in MYcroSchool a little over three years ago when counselors at Boca Ciega High School informed him he was too far behind in credits to graduate on time. He chose MYcroSchool because of the setting.

“You have a lot of kids that can’t deal with 30, 40 kids in class at the same time,” Neal said. “That was my problem. Here you can work at your own pace.”

The students that have already dropped out, MYcroSchool offers them a second chance to earn a diploma.

While the average age of the students is 19, anyone between the ages of 16 and 22 can enroll.

Because of its diverse student population, MYcroSchool has developed a flexible, at-your-own-pace schedule. Students can choose between two school days from 7:30-12:30 p.m. or 11:17- 4:17 p.m.

“This accommodates the many students who work fulltime,” said Faune Walker, administrative services and Title I coordinator at the school. “They don’t work because they want money for a car or clothes, they work because they are supporting themselves and their families,” she said.

MYcroSchool does more than offer a chance to finish high school, for many students, it is the catalyst that changes their lives.

When Neal came to MYcroSchool, he was facing some legal issues. “I was in and out of the streets, not focusing on any goals,” he said.

Shortly after enrolling, he decided to make some significant changes.

“I figured out I needed to leave the streets alone,” he said. “Leave the riff-raff alone, all the friends, leave it all alone.”

Neal credits Principal Steven Humphries and Christopher Wolf, Exceptional Student Education teacher, with keeping him out of trouble and showing him something different.

“They became the real pushers for me to do good,” he said.

Humphries has been principal at MYcroSchool for three years. He believes it can be a fresh start for kids who are forgotten by the public school system.

“Whatever happened the day before, I don’t judge you,” Humphries tells students. “Every day is brand new; you walk through the door, that’s a step.”

The biggest reason students can make such major life changes is because of the family-like atmosphere the staff creates.

“One thing we pride ourselves on is that the kids come in here one way, and because we treat them like our own and create a safe environment, they leave more confident, more mature,” said Humphries.

Wolf is proud of the way the staff approaches each student. “We treat each one differently because they each come from such different backgrounds and experiences,” he said.

As well as being able to work at their own pace, every student has an individualized learning plan tailored to meet their specific needs.

Since 80 percent of MYcroSchool students have experienced some form of trauma—such as physical abuse, homelessness and even witnessing family members gunned down—much of what the staff does involves gaining their trust and rebuilding their self-esteem.

“They have been hurt so much they are always in survival mode,” said Wolf. “We make this building a safe haven for them and try to show them education is a way out.”

That approach seems to be working. This year’s graduation rate double last year’s. Despite a shaky start, Neal was among those graduates.

According to Wolf, Neal has gotten over some very challenging hurdles and made some major life changes. “He took that turn; he’s on the right path,” he said.

Neal agrees. During his time at MYcroSchool, something finally clicked. He told himself, “You need to get your mind right, stay focused, stay in school and get your diploma.”

And the effort paid off. Neal was one of three MYcroSchool who received full scholarships to Pinellas Technical College. He will be studying heating and air conditioning in the fall and is looking forward to doing something he enjoys that also provides financial stability.

Cindy Swisher is a student reporter in the Neighborhood News Bureau of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Visit www.nnbnews.com for more info.

###

Davion Only-Going: An inspiration to us all

BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer

Davion Only-Going posing with his mom, Connie Going, after receiving his high school diploma

Davion Only-Going posing with his mom, Connie Going, after receiving his high school diploma

Compared to graduations in the past, MYcroSchool’s 2018 graduation ceremony was so large it had to be held at the Palladium Theatre. Fifty-seven young men and woman were able to check getting their high school diplomas off of their to-do-lists.

One such young man could be the poster child for not giving up—Davion Only-Going.

Born while his mother was incarcerated, Davion went from foster home to foster, from school to school so much so he has trouble counting them. Like many children in the system, he was angry and exhausted.

In 2013, he decided to stand in front of the St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church congregation one Sunday and pleaded for a family.

“I’ll take anyone,” he begged the congregation. “Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care.”

His story went viral, and he even appeared on ABC’s “The View,” where Barbara Walters interviewed him.

Thousands of people were interested in fostering him. He landed in Ohio with a minister and his family. He was soon sent back to Florida after a fight.

Back in Florida and back in a new foster home. He called his caseworker, the one constant in his life, and asked her to adopt him. She said “yes.”

Connie Going folded Davion into her life, calling him an inspiration to the 10,000 children in the foster care system.

Davion proudly walked across the stage in June to receive his high school diploma and a full scholarship from Pinellas Technical College where he plans on attending the Culinary Arts program.

During the June 7 commencement address, it was almost as if Rev. Shawn Thomas, youth pastor at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, was using Davion as an example of keeping the faith when life will inevitably send you off-track.

“There are potholes, there are bends and turns along the way,” he said, encouraging graduates not to get frustrated and throw in the towel, but to acknowledge the moments as a learning process in life. “There are times when you have to slow down so you don’t wreck.”

Which is what MYcroSchool is all about. They offer not only a high school curriculum geared toward college readiness, but up-to-date technology to ensure students have a hands-on experience.

A computer workstation is offered to each student, and a flexible curriculum adaptable to individual interests and skill levels is incorporated. With a project-based curriculum, students become experts in internet research and publishing of creative ideas.

Graduates listened intently as Thomas continued to bestow the importance of keeping their heads up and their lives free of negativity.

“I’m sure there are many people out there who could testify to these graduates that there are people and things in life that have been designed to specifically stop them from moving forward.”

He explained that progress in life tends to become stagnant at times and frantic at others.

“But you can’t stop moving. No matter how hard the task is, no matter how hard the situation is, you have to keep moving in life.”

Thomas also cautioned the youths on comparing themselves to others their age and becoming obsessed with racing through life to play catch up with family members or friends.

“You’re only running this race against yourself. You need to move at your pace because we all have different paces.”

Students were encouraged to make a life plan and to write it down, solidify it in their mind so no matter what obstacles pop up in life, they will be able to deal with them effectively.

“Stick with the plan you create for your life.”

Thomas finished up recognizing the hardships that many of the graduates had to endure to reach graduation day. Whether it is was a wrong choice that steered them off-track or a circumstance beyond their control, MYcroSchool graduates chose to get it together and deal with the potholes, bends in the road and the machinations of those intent on their failure.

For more information about MYcroSchool, located at 840 Third Ave. S, contact them at 727-825-3710 or visit PinellasMycroSchool.org.

Share the news with your friends!

PinIt

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>