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School choice. It’s life changing for this North Carolina family.

• ExcelinEd

The policies ExcelinEd supports have the power to impact lives and change futures. Just ask Paula Kennedy, a teacher and the mother of two students who have received Opportunity Scholarships in North Carolina.

North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program was established in 2013 to offer private school tuition scholarships for qualifying students. After two years of political and legal battles, the state’s Supreme Court declared the program to be constitutional in July.

Despite constant attacks on the Program from entrenched interests, parents have shown they are hungry for the choices these scholarships offer. The program has received over 11,000 applications from families in nearly all 100 North Carolina counties in the past two years. These families care deeply about their children’s education, and today we hear from one of their own.

Paula Kennedy
Paula Kennedy and her family. From left to right: Tom, Paula, Victoria, Dakota, Abigail, Nathanael, Cherie and Joseph.


Have you ever received a postcard that changed your life?

I did once.

Last year, my family received a postcard in the mail about North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship, a program that offers tuition scholarships for certain students. I initially thought it was too good to be true, but after some research, I discovered my sons qualified.

The scholarship was a godsend.

Three of my sons were in public school and two were struggling. Day after day, Nathanael, age 16, encountered bullying. Dakota, age 14, had educational delays and wasn’t receiving the support he needed. Only my youngest, Joseph, age 12, was thriving.

Public school was hard for Nathanael and Dakota, and both boys were so excited for the new school made possible by their Opportunity Scholarships. Now they look forward to school and both are getting the support they need.

We selected Crossroads Christian School in Statesville. It is meeting their academic and social needs, and this change has given them a brighter outlook on life.

As a mother and teacher, that means the world.

At Crossroads Christian, both boys are earning higher grades and working toward their goals. Nathanael wants to be a veterinarian, and Dakota is considering culinary school. Why? Because they had the opportunity to attend the school that meets their learning needs, something other than our local public option.

I was so thankful to learn the North Carolina Supreme Court recently upheld this program. Now I know my children will continue to learn in a wonderful academic environment where they excel, a setting that meets their unique needs.

For nearly two thousand North Carolina students, Opportunity Scholarships are a lifeline to a better education and a better life. I hope that more families across North Carolina and the nation will one day have access to the same choice my family has.

Paula Kennedy of North Carolina is a teacher and the mother of six children, including one public school student and two students using Opportunity Scholarships to attend a private school in their community.

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