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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Turning it around

Jasmine_2 It's the time of year when school districts honor students. Some because they're always been good, but others because they finally made it there. Pasco County handed out its Turnaround Achievement Awards today, and the Gradebook decided to share one of the student's stories just because it feels good. Meet Jasmine Reid-Chacon, a sophomore at Wiregrass High School in Wesley Chapel.

Freshman year found Jasmine Reid-Chacon angry, rebellious, troubled. D's were good grades for her. She had 43 referrals, two suspensions including one for a fight. (The other was because she was accused of threatening a teacher, something Jasmine denies while acknowledging she was the kind of kid who people thought would do that.) "They actually wanted to kick Jasmine out of school completely," said her mom, Patricia Kayser, who ultimately agreed to place her daughter in an alternative program for a short time before enrolling Jasmine in Wiregrass Ranch.

What was going on? Maybe it was her biological father's absence. Maybe it was the arrival of a new stepdad. "That's where a lot of the anger comes from, I think," said Michael Kayser, her stepfather.

During the summer, Jasmine attended a Christian sports camp. "I just saw how everybody was. Life was good for them," she related. "I wanted the same thing." She discovered God. With her newfound faith, she also found the strength to change her ways. No more arguing with teachers. Nor more starting fights. Honor roll instead of D's and F's.

"It's still a struggle not to argue with someone when they say something I disagree with, to not fight with them because I don't like them," Jasmine admitted. "But I'm too old for that."

She wept as she thanked her parents, teachers and God for getting her to her new place. If she hadn't changed, Jasmine said, she might be a dropout, she might be dead. "I can walk around with my head up high now."

For more turnaround stories, see the St. Petersburg Times Pasco section in the morning.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:17am]


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