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Academies in Action: Gratitude for Our Young Learners

November 2, 2021 | Jeffrey Good
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Each month, we take a moment to learn from the educational leaders who are bringing the Acceleration Academies mission to life, day in and day out. This month, we asked our Academy Directors to respond to this prompt: In this season of giving thanks, what qualities of your academy’s graduation candidates make you grateful? Here is what they had to say.


I am most thankful for their perseverance. Many of our graduation candidates have overcome significant challenges and are still pushing forward each day to reach their goal of a high school diploma. We are so proud of the countless hours and relentless pursuit of excellence they invest each day.

— Alison Hansen, Director, Bethel (WA)


The fierce determination of our GCs to persevere through a pandemic and other life challenges to realize their dream of a diploma inspires the staff and me every day. We are very grateful to be part of their educational journey and to serve, support and celebrate their successes as they power through to graduation.

— Wendy Thompson, Director, Clark County (NV)


At our new academy, I am humbled by the perseverance and willingness of each GC. My heart is warmed by their convictions and their desire to rewrite their personal stories. I am grateful for conversations that give me personal insight into why they gave up on traditional school and how our program is inspiring them to complete their education.

— Maria Jacobs, Director, Escambia County (FL)


I am the biggest fan of our GCs. I am so thankful that their resilience has sustained them. Each and everyone of them brings a powerful life message that is forever etched in mind. Whenever I walk around the site, I am always reminding myself how thankful I am that they have allowed me to accompany them on their journey.

— Dr. Jacinta Bryant, Director, Lowcountry Acceleration Academy


I am grateful our graduation candidates trust us to guide them, both academically and as human beings. Many of our GCs have experienced people who have failed them along their journey. When they learn to trust and open up to us, they share beautiful qualities so many have never looked deep enough to find.

— Gina Montagnino-Fiske, Director, Miami-Dade (FL)


Our graduation candidates are full of courage. It takes courage to recommit to school, to work through challenging assignments (such as math or writing essays) and to set ambitious goals for yourself. I am thankful for the GCs and graduates who have shown their courageous hearts, minds and souls.

— Monetta Ruskin, Director, Sarasota (FL).


I am most thankful for their tenacity. So many of these young people are facing obstacles that I couldn’t imagine having to overcome at my age, let alone as a teenager or young adult. Still, they push through their hardships and find ways to persevere. I am in awe of them everyday.

— Paige Latham, Director, St. Lucie (FL).