Millions of American families – from single parent to rural families and parents of children with special needs – benefit from the opportunity to find the best educational fit for their child’s unique needs. And each family has an inspiring story to share.
As National School Choice Week begins, ExcelinEd proudly joins more than a dozen partners to announce the winners of the “Choices in Education” video competition. The competition highlighted families and students sharing how they benefited from the power of educational opportunity. The winners will be recognized at National School Choice Week events in their home state throughout the week.
“Hundreds of students, parents and families shared their stories of how educational choice made a difference in their lives, which is a testament to the benefits to families across the country,” said Patricia Levesque, ExcelinEd CEO. “Whether choosing a magnet school, public charter school, private school, virtual or blended learning school or homeschool, all families deserve the freedom to select the learning environment that best fits the needs of their child, regardless of their ZIP code or background.”
Judges from national educational organizations selected the grand prize winners and runners-up. Voting was also open to the public during December, with the top two vote-getters named as the people’s choice winners.
Grand Prize Winners
People’s Choice Winners
ExcelinEd teamed up with the nation’s leading education groups on this initiative, including: Agudath Israel, American Federation for Children, Arizona School Choice Trust, Center for Education Reform, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri, Children’s Scholarship Fund, Classical Conversations, EdChoice, EdChoice Kentucky, Florida Parent Network, Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, Institute for Quality Education, Missouri Charter Public School Association, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National School Choice Week, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, Public School Options.org, School Choice Ohio, School Choice for Oregon, Step Up for Students, Texans for Education Opportunity and many more.
For more information on educational opportunity, visit www.ExcelinEd.org/Opportunity.
Quotes from the Winners
Grand Prize winner Christopher Collot of Miami, Florida chose a charter school for his son Jayden to attend, where he is thriving both academically and socially.
“I wanted to provide my child with the best possible fit for his education and give him what I never had – a choice,” Christopher Collot said. “I’m extremely lucky that I had the opportunity to choose a school that was right for my child’s educational needs. Every kid is different and that makes them special. We shouldn’t limit our children’s potential with a one size fits all mentality.”
Grand Prize winner Cabral Clements of Atlanta, Georgia attended an arts and sciences charter school out of district as a film student.
“Thanks to school choice, I gained exposure and specialization into a career that I’m passionate about and that I continue to work in,” Cabral Clements said. “All of this was made possible by me being able to choose the best educational route for my unique needs.”
Grand Prize winner the Fife family of Brunswick, Ohio are the recipients of the Ohio Autism Scholarship, which helped them send their son, Paul, to a private school that specializes in language development, as well as occupational therapy and additional speech therapy in their home.
“Over the last three years, the change has been amazing – he has become a lot more talkative, he’s creative and his teachers say that he is a miracle because of all the developmental milestones he’s hit,” Mac Fife said.
Runner—Up and People’s Choice winner Sarah Kleipe of Asheboro, North Carolina has been searching for a learning environment to meet the needs of her son, Aiden, who was diagnosed with Autism.
“It is up to us as our children’s parents, advocates and biggest supporters to do all the research we possibly can to find the best opportunity to get the education that they need and deserve,” Sarah Kleipe said. “After being shuffled through the educational system without a choice, I am now pursuing the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant so I can send Aiden to a school that can best meet his unique needs.”
When Runner-Up David McGuire was a boy his mother lied about her address so he could go to a school that would better serve him. Today, he serves as a principal at a charter school in Indianapolis, ensuring more students have access to school choice options.
“I truly believe that the decision my mother made 25 years ago to put me in a better school set me on a path and a trajectory to be the educator that I am today – one that loves and fights for my students and advocates for the voice of parents to choose a school best for their child,” David McGuire said. “Had it not been for my mother’s choice and her tears of seeing the area in which her son could have gone to, I never would have seen her tears the days I graduated high school and college.”
Runner-Up the Taylor family of Chandler, Arizona receives a tax-credit scholarship which provides financial assistance for tuition and therapy services for their son, Alex, who was diagnosed with dyslexia.
“We found a wonderful school that is able to provide our son, Alex, the appropriate reading interventions, as well as offer a host of other accessibility technical supports that the neighborhood school wasn’t able to provide,” Garrick Taylor said. “Thanks to a tax-credit scholarship, we’ve been able to pursue another option to make sure that Alex reaches his full potential.”
People’s Choice winner Damacia Howard of Union City, Georgia attends an online public charter high school.
“Having been bullied at a traditional brick and mortar school, my parents and I welcomed a better option,” Damacia Howard said. “Attending an online public charter school allows me to focus more on my academics, while also having the flexibility to serve my community. School choice gives me the freedom to choose what works best for me and for that I am forever grateful.”