After facing bullying in elementary and middle school, Anaya Garnes decided she was going to map her own way through high school. During the Covid pandemic, she shifted to an online program but found that working alone too often meant feeling abandoned by her teachers.
“If I could email them, call them, text them, it would take them ages to reply,” she recalls. “No one would help me.”
Then her friend Tim Friday told her about Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies, where he had found the guidance and inspiration he needed.
“Everybody cares about the students here, and the students here care about the staff,” says Tim. “Some people don’t get that kind of love in their own household.”
Anaya decided to join her friend at MDAA. And in January, both plan to walk across the stage and receive the high school diplomas they’ve worked hard to earn.
Tim is a talented and charismatic young man, a musician whose first original song — First and Foremost, about the need to set priorities — got more than a million listens online. But for too long, he acknowledges, education wasn’t his first priority.
“It took 3 years of going through what I was going through to come to the realization that I needed high school,” says Tim.
At MDAA, he found a team dedicated to encouraging him to become the best possible version of himself, citing in particular graduation candidate advocate Erick Velis.
“He’s very motivating, always positive,” says Tim. “He gives me the energy to keep going.”
Anaya found similar support. Among those who’ve made a difference is math coach Eliane Hernandez, who helped her work through the challenges of advanced algebra. “She takes the time to slow down and explain the problem.”
After graduating, Anaya would like to go to beauty school and eventually start her own salon. For his part, Tim would like to not only pursue his musical interests but train to be a boat mechanic and eventually create business enterprises.
“My last name is Friday and I want that name to mean something,” he says. “One of my biggest things is giving back to others. If I can help somebody out spiritually, mentally, helping them find a job, I want to do that.”