For Velliesa Castellano, the traditional in-person and online school opportunities just didn’t work. Only when she found her way to Bethel Acceleration Academies and its blend of the two approaches did she hit her stride.
And when her motivation flagged, she knew BAA educators like graduation candidate advocate Starr Phillips would be right there to pick her up.
“A couple of times she even stopped by my house to see if I was okay,” Velliesa said. “It let me know that she was going out of her way to get hold of me.”
Like many learners at Acceleration Academies, Velliesa has a job to help pay the bills. Those demands made it hard to also fit in a traditional school day and do a good job on homework in her off hours.
“I just didn’t have the motivation every day to physically get up and go to school. I was trying to do work and school at the same time,” she says. Six months at an online school proved no better. When she would reach out for help, “Nobody would ever get back to me.”
She found the opposite at BAA. In addition to Phillips, Academy directors and content coaches Alison Hansen and Kevin Torres made themselves available when she needed help, even outside of regular school hours.
“When I needed help and reached out, they got right back to me,” she says.
And the help extended outside of her academic needs; when she was having trouble affording nutritious food, staff members helped her find additional resources. “They definitely helped me out.”
Now 21, Velliesa had to miss the recent graduation ceremony, but for a beautiful reason: She was giving birth to her baby girl, Queen. When Queen grows up and learns about her mom’s perseverance, she hopes she will learn a lesson.
“I hope that she understands that even if you feel you’re behind in life, it’s never too late to get what you want.”