Tampa charter school preparing middle school students for college

TAMPA - A Tampa charter school is paving the way for students to reach for higher education.

"We talk about college. We talk about careers, some kind of path post gradational," said Vernon White, who teaches an 8th grade civics class at Idea Hope Prep Charter School. He's determined to help children understand the importance of college.

"Unfortunately, college is not advocated a lot of times to our students," White said. "And so. We want to ensure, even at a young age, in middle school that they understand what college is."

The goal of the college preparatory, public charter school goal is to plant the seed of higher education in the students' minds.

"Because many of our scholars come from underserved communities," said LaToya McGhee, principal of Idea Hope College Prep. "Where they they may be first generation college students. So not only is this an opportunity for them to change their own trajectory, but also the possibility of coming back into their communities and also impacting the trajectory of their communities at large."

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Teens from the school visit college campuses to experience college life firsthand.

"Being able to stop and talk to students who might share their same experiences and their same backgrounds in order to see that this is something that is possible. It is not a far-fetched dream," McGhee said.

Seventh grade student Nubia Pesina dreams of being the first in her family to attend college.

"I want to go to college to pursue my passions and help my family's life and improve my family's life and improve my life," Nubia said. "Most importantly. And I just want to be successful."

For 8th grader James Leysath, seeing the many college pennants on the school walls is a sign that he is at the right institution.

"They push us to be our best, and they never give up on us no matter what," said James. "Even if we're down or we're feeling great."

"We treat the kids like they're our children," Principal McGhee said. "We love on them. And we try to pour into them so that they understand. And they are motivated to strive for better academically, socially, emotionally."

The school's parent company is located in Texas and 100% of their students were accepted into college. The school in Tampa is K-8 right now, but it is adding a grade each year. Applications will be accepted this summer.

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