Berean Christian Junior Academy, Atlanta
Twelve-year-old Rachel Shaw is a confident, involved and accomplished 7th grader who thrives academically and socially at Atlanta's Berean Christian Junior Academy. According to her mother, Marilyn, she bears little resemblance to the shy 5th grader who, as a public school student, was bullied to the point that a teacher recommended a change of environments.
"She said middle school was going to be hard for Rachel," said Mrs. Shaw. "But we didn't have money to change schools."
The second-year Arete Scholar recently shared her success story with a crowd of 2,200 school choice supporters at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Discover how a tax credit scholarship has helped reshape the future for Rachel and her family.
"My name is Rachel Shaw, and I'm a 7th grader at Berean Christian Junior Academy. Prior to attending BCJA, I was a student in the public school system. However, as my 5th grade year started coming to an end, I realized that I did not want to transition to the local public middle school because I would have to deal with some of the same students who were unkind and would sometimes bully me."
"Unfortunately, my parents didn't think they could afford to send me to a private school at that time. You see, at that time my mom was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and was not working. And my dad was taking care of my mom, myself and my sister, as well as my mom's childcare business. All of which meant a drastic cut in income for our family."
"Just when I began to think the situation was hopeless, my parents were introduced to the Arete scholarship. Thanks to the Arete scholarship, my sister and I were both afforded the opportunity to attend a Christian private school. My mom said when she dropped us off on the first day of school it was the first time in our entire school lives she was able to say goodbye without having a knot in her stomach. For the first time, she didn't worry about whether we would have mean teachers or class bullies."
"I have made lots of new friends at BCJA, and my dad says he is so happy that I have evolved from a shy little girl that attended public school to the person I am today. But what I love most about Berean Christian Junior Academy is that teachers, students and staff are so much nicer. And teachers treat everyone the same without showing any favoritism."
"I also love the fact that some of the choices that we no longer had in the public school, like band, orchestra and choir, are available to me at BCJA. I play the cello in the school orchestra and also sing in the choir. Someday I may be able to use my cello and vocal training to become a professional classical musician."
"On behalf of all the families that have been given the opportunity to choose a private school through the Arete scholarship, I'd like to say thank you to Arete Scholars Fund."
Click to watch the video of Rachel's address: