20 Grads: Reaching for the Stars

20 Grads in 20 Days: June marks a huge anniversary in Connecticut. Twenty years ago this month, Governor John Rowland signed the law allowing public charter schools to exist in the state of Connecticut! To celebrate, we’re profiling 20 public charter school graduates every day for the first 20 days of June. Enjoy reading about our charter schools and the stellar kids they're educating.

Jaida, an eighth grader at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Middle School, has found a home, and her authentic self, through school.

“Achievement First (AF) to me means freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of emotion, freedom of education,” said Jaida. “The teachers here really care. Graduating from here will be one of the proudest moments in my life.”

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Her favorite teacher, Ms. Felicia Gee, is her role model. “She doesn’t only teach science, she teaches young females how to be themselves and not let other people’s opinions be their reality.”

Jaida wants to study science in college, and eventually become an astro-biologist and work for NASA. “I want to know what’s on other planets,” said Jaida. “We’re one of the smallest planets. I know there’s life out there.”

She likes science because of the project-driven work the subject entails. “It’s a rush when you complete a project and you understand, for example, how the planets orbit, or why it’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer,” said Jaida.

Jaida thought about attending Brien McMahon School in Norwalk next year, but she decided to stick with AF and head to Achievement First Amistad High School next year. “I finally found myself at Achievement First; I feel like I would become way more successful if I went to Amistad for high school.”

That means Jaida will be commuting to New Haven every day, but Bridgeport is always on her mind.

“When I get older, I want to come back to Bridgeport and build a homeless shelter,” said Jaida. “Everyone who is homeless would be invited – there would be enough room for everyone.”

She has her parents, and AF, to thank for those values. “I want to thank them for being overprotective,” she said of her parents. “They may get really annoying and you may not understand while you’re little, but what they do is in your best interest.”

By sending her to AF Bridgeport, Jaida’s parents changed the course of her life.

She had some advice for similar students, in the hope they get as much out of the school as she did: “Focus, try your best, and remember that the teachers are here to help you, not hurt you.”

As she graduates and heads to Amistad High School, Jaida is sure to continue acting as a role model to her peers, making her parents proud, and working toward her dream job studying life beyond our planet, among the stars.

Mike is the former Deputy Communications Director for Connecticut for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
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20 Grads: Reaching for the Stars
20 Grads: Reaching for the Stars
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