For Nathan Ricca, the road to finding the right high school was long and winding. He began in a traditional high school but felt overwhelmed by the crowded hallways and packed classrooms. He tried military school but didn’t thrive in the regimented learning environment.
Nathan is an independent sort, the kind of student who learns best when allowed to navigate by his own lights. He found that opportunity at Sarasota Acceleration Academies (SAA).
“I prefer self-learning way more than having someone teach me,” he says.
At SAA, he was able to settle into one of the cafe-style chairs, focus on one course at a time and not have to deal with any distractions. “The concept of going there, sitting down to do my work and then leaving really appealed to me.”
Sometimes, he would encounter an academic challenge that called for some coaching. All he had to do was ask.
“All of the teachers were helpful,” says Nathan. “They always answered clearly in a way that was easy to understand.”
Particularly helpful was Khaliah Augustin, the soft-spoken math coach who takes pride in breaking down complex problems into understandable chunks and helping build confidence in graduation candidates. His English coach also helped him talk through concepts to build his written skills.
“Since I’m not very social, I struggle with conversation,” he says. “Talking with her about essays helped me use the right words for the right situation.”
With support from the SAA team and by virtue of his own hard work, Nathan was able to graduate early and move on to study information technology at Suncoast Technical College. He’s grateful that the final stop on his high school journey was SAA.
“It was very open and warm-hearted. It was way different.”