Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lacoochee students, teachers spend extra hours seeking success

Seven boys and one girl sat at half-circle tables with two teachers, solving division problems.

It was more than an hour before Lacoochee Elementary began classes, and 15 minutes before students were officially allowed on campus.

But these children and their teachers come early every morning. They have more than a year of material to make up, to get to middle school with their peers.

"I've been here a long time," said Renson Oregon, 12. "I want to go to sixth. I'm ready to go on to middle school and then go on to get a career."

Getting there was so important that just the rumor of extra help motivated them.

"When we saw (principal Latoya) Jordan, we didn't run her down. We just had to walk fast to ask her could we be in the program," said Roberto Gomez, 12.

Teachers Jaime Darley and Chasity Vento volunteered their time, driving as much as an hour to school, because they saw the urgency in getting the students back on track.

They had learned no one who had been held back twice at Lacoochee ever had graduated from high school, and they wanted to change that statistic.

"I love them," Vento said, as she watched the kids play a computer math game. "If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be doing it."

She and Darley have agreed to help the students and their Pasco Middle School teachers with the transition. They planned to keep tutoring even through the summer, and the kids are willing.

In financially strapped Lacoochee, such a commitment can mean family sacrifice. That does not go unnoticed by Jordan and her team. Rather, it made them more determined.

The kids appreciate that dedication, calling their teachers "awesome" for assisting them down the path to success.

"I've got to stay straight," Roberto said, "and can't do no curves on that."

• • •

The Pasco school district last week recognized students from each middle and high school who had turned around their performance.

They included a boy who told the audience he never expected to graduate and then broke down, unable to continue thanking his teachers for helping him to a diploma; and a girl who overcame her dysfunctional family and homelessness.

It was just 33 children.

But as Pasco High teacher Cindy McCarthy noted, "For every story you've heard, there are 100 more just like them."

District officials applauded the students, who grinned as if no one had ever cheered them before. They also reminded the kids that the journey isn't over.

Event host Terry Aunchman ended the ceremony by quoting Aristotle: "Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives — choice, not chance, determines your destiny."

The next steps belong to the students.

Have ideas for us to consider? Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4614.

Lacoochee students, teachers spend extra hours seeking success 05/14/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 7:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  2. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  4. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  5. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.