SYF on the Road: At-Promise Students in Nashville, Tennessee

With 25 Simon Youth Academies in 13 states, Team SYF is
known to hit the road occasionally.  A recent
visit to Simon Youth Academy at Opry Mills in Nashville, TN, reinforced how
closely our academies tie current academic pursuits to future opportunities in
the workforce, college and beyond.  In
addition to the familiar sight of students hard at work in Math and English
classes, part of the academy was buzzing with a different kind of activity . .
. a FAFSA help station. 

Current students and recent academy graduates were
diligently plugging away at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA).  Some paperwork is just that:
paperwork.  But for all of the nerve-wracking
tediousness that comes with this particular piece of paperwork, it’s an
important step toward something big: college. 
And these students certainly were not grumbling about the task at
hand.  They were engaged and
enthusiastic. 

SYF often describes our typical academy student as “at-risk”
of dropping out of high school.  It’s a
common term that carries a well-understood meaning.  But perhaps a more accurate description of
our typical academy student is “at-promise.” In the not-too-distant past, each
of the Opry Mills students was dangerously close to becoming a dropout
statistic, yet on FAFSA day, that past seemed forgotten.  They have become, or are on the way to
becoming, high school graduates with the promise of bright futures ahead. 

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