From hope to reality: Hillsborough honors turnaround students
TAMPA - It really is possible for a 16-year-old middle schooler to get it together and become a successful student.
Just ask Meghann Burford.
She is one of 68 students being honored this week at the Hillsborough County school district's 24th annual Turnaround Achievement Awards.
At a ceremony Thursday morning, Jennings Middle School social worker Roger Whitfield said Burford's outlook seemed grim after years of academic struggle. Worse, she had become a bad influence on other students.
"She wasn't traveling with the wrong crowd," he said. "She and her sister were the wrong crowd."
Burford missed 107 days of school last year, and showed every sign of becoming just another dropout statistic when she reached high school. But then something happened.
"I had to use my mind and get control," she said. "I realized that I wanted to be something."
Within a year, she had vaulted from failing grades to a B average. Now she's interested in studying medical sciences when she reaches Armwood High next fall.
"She made a believer out of me," Whitfield said.
Tom Marshall, Times staff writer