Age 11.
Attending Andrew Robinson Elementary.

Chris was 10 years old when he nearly gave up on himself. After repeating third grade, he was still reading on a kindergarten grade level.

Chris began to internalize the low expectations others had for him—until he got into Jennifer Feigert’s class. Every day, when the other students left, Chris stayed after school as she cleaned up her classroom and planned for the next day. She made sure he worked on reading skills and homework to overcome his learning disabilities.

Meanwhile, Chris got help from a mentor, who tutored him in multiplication and took him on outings that built his confidence.

It was a victory hard fought, but when he increased his reading achievement to an FCAT Level 3, Ms. Feigert rewarded him with a trip to Washington, D.C., because he was so inspired by President Barack Obama.

Over that year, a great teacher and a caring mentor turned everything around. Chris worked hard and for the first time, he began reading on grade level. He was promoted, but there’s more to it than that: His life is forever changed.

“I know a lot of people who went to high school but then they dropped out,” Chris said. “Kids shouldn’t be allowed to drop out at 16. They shouldn't be allowed to drop out, period.”