When it comes to describing her experience at Lowcountry Acceleration Academy, LaDayshia Tavelle doesn’t mince words.
“This school just — boom! — changed me,” says LaDayshia, who went from being a struggling student at a traditional high school to a successful graduation candidate at LAA — and, then, a proud graduate.
“This is where everybody needs to come,” she declares. “Right here.”
LaDayshia is a young lady with big energy and a small attention span. Traditional school simply didn’t keep her engaged, and she kept sinking deeper and deeper into academic stagnation.
“I was skipping classes, going all these places. I was wild,” she acknowledges. “I was like, ‘Mama, you need to get me out of this school.’ It was a mess.”
In November 2021, she enrolled at LAA, a free, public charter high school that offers a personalized path to a diploma for learners who haven’t found success in other settings. From the minute she walked into the newly opened North Charleston campus, she felt a shift.
“When I first came here, I was amazed. It was beautiful. I was like, this is it. This is a place I need to be,” she recalls. “At orientation, I was so happy. I couldn’t even breathe — that’s how happy I was.”
LaDayshia loves the school’s learning environment, a spacious center with comfortable, cafe-style seating and the opportunity to work solo or in small groups. “I feel better in open spaces instead of being in all tight in classrooms. I just put my earbuds in, do my work and I’m relaxed.”
The model of taking one course at a time helped her to focus. And whenever she needed one-on-one help, all she needed to do was ask. She cited in particular graduation candidate Janell Reyes and former Director Dr. Jacinta Bryant (who is now overseeing Acceleration Academies’ expansion in South Carolina).
“The staff is the best,” she says. Reyes “motivates me to keep going. She’s so jolly. I like that.” Of Bryant, she says, “She’s got a good spirit, too, keeping me on track, celebrating me.”
LaDayshia plans to study business and marketing in college and to follow in the footsteps of her entrepreneur parents and open a food market. She likes it that her younger brother and sister can look up to her and think, “Dang, Dayshia’s doing good. I want to be like her.”
She encouraged one of her friends to transfer from their old school — where she, too, was struggling — to LAA. “I told her to get out but not drop out,” she says. “I told her to come to this school — It’s going to change your life.”