Stephanie Keahey's children defy the odds because of the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund

Stephanie Keahey’s son Caleb attended a school that pushed him to the back when they saw that it was hard for him to focus. They only recognized behavioral issues and didn’t see that he really wanted to learn. Stephanie was told that he needed to be professionally evaluated and put on medication. After switching to a private school, Caleb completely transformed.

“Caleb has become an entirely different child in the past three years since attending his private school,” said Stephanie Keahey. “His teachers have not mentioned him needing to be evaluated or medicated. And even on his rough days, they say they expect nine year old boys to be like that.”

The teachers now see Caleb’s potential and his promise for a better future, so much so, that he received honors awards on awards day.

Stephanie’s daughter Jailyah is a different type of student all the way around. She loves school. Stephanie says that because of the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund, she is applying for The Altamont School in Birmingham, Alabama. “Because of the scholarship, schools are on my radar that were not before because of financial reasons,” Stephanie added.

Jailyah has the grades, recommendations and transcripts to attend Altamont, the number two private school in the state. It would be a dream come true for Jailyah to attend. She is waiting on the decision for acceptance. Stephanie says that attending Altamont would change her daughter’s life in a way that nothing else would.

“I can relate to the concerns public schools have about these scholarships,” said Stephanie. “However, they need to understand the facts of the program.” Stephanie says that watching her children evolve into well-educated, well-rounded and well-spoken young people has been a blessing. She believes that statistically they would have never had this opportunity without the scholarships. To anyone who doubts the validity or benefits of the program, including the legislators at the Statehouse, the proof is in Caleb and Jailyah.

Tion Berry soars at Alabama Christian Academy, in Montgomery, because of the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund

Tion Berry soars at Alabama Christian Academy, in Montgomery, because of the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund Delia Hasberry has seen an increase in her daughter Tion’s grades since transferring to Alabama Christian Academy in Montgomery, Alabama. Tion was feeling pressured to ‘fit in’ in public schools before changing schools. Now that the pressure is gone, she is soaring.

“My daughter comes home now with questions and we discuss what she has learned at school during the day,” said Delia Hasberry. “It’s now more about the lessons, learning and understanding instead about if she is wearing the latest clothes or shoes just to ‘fit in.”

Tion also feels less hesitant to ask teachers questions if she doesn’t understand something than she did before. The smaller classes at Alabama Christian Academy allow her to interact one-on-one with her teachers. Her classes are helping her become prepared to attend college.

“Tion also feels inspired and much more confident in her private school.” Delia added. The Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund gives parents options to send their children to schools they could not otherwise afford. Parents are desperately seeking ways to keep their children happy, safe and secure in an environment where they can learn and receive the best education. Because of AOSF, Delia now sends her daughter to a quality private school something that she wouldn’t be able to do without the scholarship, and Tion is excelling.

Delia doesn’t believe that the scholarships are negatively impacting public schools. She believes that the scholarship programs should be motivating public schools to step it up and look at ways to better meet their students’ needs. She believes they should be taking steps to be competitive with other states whose public schools are not struggling.

“In our school, our private school, parents and teachers are actively working together to provide what is best for the students. At our school the child and their education are put first, above anything else,” Delia added. Delia says her daughter will definitely attend college and as a ninth grader she is already touring potential colleges. Delia also adds that her daughter is looking forward to beginning her 10th grade year at Alabama Christian Academy.

“At one time, I thought Tion would be contained by the glass ceiling here in Montgomery,” Delia said. “But, now I believe that ceiling and all of the restrictions are now gone, now that she is attending Alabama Christian Academy on the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund. Education is the key to our children’s future and we need to do all that we can to make sure they are prepared for life by giving them the best education possible.”

Kannon Hunter gets the opportunity to excel academically and emotionally after receiving the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship

Kannon’s mom had noticed an immediate change in her son when he came home from school. He had always enjoyed school and made good grades. However, the school had begun contacting her about students bullying Kannon. He was no longer eager to go to school and his attitude about studying had changed. Luckily, his mom found out about the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund and she applied. After being awarded the scholarship, Kannon was able to transfer to St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Robertsdale, Alabama.

“At St. Patrick, Kannon felt safe and flourished,” said Lauren Hunter. “Now that he’s at St. Michael Catholic High School, he has excelled even more. He is aware that the scholarship is a gift, and he takes pride in doing his best because of the gift he has received.”

Class sizes at St. Michael are smaller which allows students to receive one-on-one help with more challenging subjects. Students in these classrooms also have the opportunity to learn in unique and exciting ways that allows them engage with their teachers and peers so that they can better understand lessons. The payoff is that Kannon has all As and Bs. The students at St. Michael also are held accountable for their actions and Kannon has grown because his school environment is more structured.

In addition to excelling academically, Kannon also has matured. He is eager to do his best everyday, doing his homework without being asked and volunteering for extra credit assignments. “He has always been a good student, but to witness what this opportunity has done for my son emotionally, has been the best experience I could have as a parent,” Lauren added.

St. Michael has helped Kannon find more confidence and he is learning new things that his mother thought he never would get the opportunity to learn earlier in his life. He also knows that without the AOSF he would have never been given the opportunity to go to St. Patrick’s and now St. Michael.

Lauren feels that it is critical to keep the scholarship because it benefits good kids from hardworking families, who cannot afford to send them to a better school. She feels that these kids are just as eager to learn as Kannon is. “There are so many kids that need the opportunity to have a better future and through the AOSF’s generosity, they can. We have to keep this scholarship program for our kids.” When Kannon graduates, he hopes to attend the University of Alabama and play tuba in the Million Dollar Band.

“Kannon has been given an opportunity that I never had, nor his grandparents had or their parents ever had and I am so grateful we got this chance through the AOSF scholarship program.”

From devastating behavior to soaring academically, Mobile’s Tony Pope gets on the right path after receiving an AOSF scholarship to attend Cottage Hill Christian Academy

Tony Pope was getting into fights and his grades were failing in the school he attended. His father was worried because he was running with the wrong crowd. Tony Pope, Sr. knew it was not like his son to have this type of behavior. Pope stated that his son loved sports, but was being influenced by a crowd that was not right for him. The teachers only could do so much and Tony was not receiving the one-on-one attention that his father thought would pull him off of the dark path he had chosen.

A friend told Tony’s father about the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund. Tony, Jr. was awarded a scholarship and was accepted to Cottage Hill Christian Academy in Mobile, Alabama. Since Tony has been at Cottage Hill, his grades have dramatically improved and his teachers have taken a personal interest in his learning.

“Tony’s grade point average is up and the school offers hands-on-learning,” said Tony Pope, Sr, Tony’s father. “He is leading bible study and he has learned to set goals for his future. His friends also have the same mentality and they have good influence on my son.”

Cottage Hill Christian Academy has checks and balances in order to keep students on track with what they are supposed to accomplish academically. Tony Pope, Sr. likes these checks and balances because he feels that it makes the students within the program conscientious of what they need to do to succeed.

“The scholarship program is desperately needed for students so that they can find out what their academic potential is and develop it,” said Tony Pope, Sr. “I pray the program grows worldwide so more students can have the opportunity that my son has had.”

Tony has tremendous talent in sports and Cottage Hill is allowing him to live to his fullest potential his father goes on to say. “He’s had the opportunity to open up and grow at a school that cares about him.”

Tony hopes to graduate and go to college to study sports medicine. Sports is his passion.

“The program has helped my son realize his full potential as a student and as a student athlete,” Tony Pope, Sr. added. “My son’s future is bigger and brighter because of his education at Cottage Hill. I’d like to see other children get the same opportunity Tony has had because having a good education is important to having a great future, in my opinion.

Alabama’s tax credits become available now and people can give to the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund at that time. The scholarship fund helps students in need get the education they deserve.