Camelot Education’s Phoenix Academy Graduates Overcome Challenges to Achieve Educational Success

 In Camelot Blog

Life is filled with unforeseen events, consequences and circumstances. When faced with difficulties some people just give in and give up. But, for two students of Camelot Education’s Phoenix Academy, Philip Dickinson and Kayla Santiago, they overcame significant challenges and obstacles to achieve educational success.

Phoenix Academy, an accelerated high school in partnership with the School District of Lancaster, PA, helped guide the students on a path that allowed them to graduate from J.P. McCaskey High School and start realizing post-secondary education opportunities. Through hard work and determination, they have worked hard to accomplish their educational goals in order to improve their own lives and those around them.

Philip Dickinson

Dickinson, 18, admits he was a troubled youth heading down the wrong path. In 6th grade he started getting into a lot of trouble at school that eventually led to expulsion. He was also arrested twice, the first time when he was 13 and again when he was in 10th grade.

“You could say I was doing everything I shouldn’t have been doing,” said Dickinson. “I knew I was heading for more serious problems. When I enrolled at Phoenix Academy, I made the decision that I was going to change for the better.”

Dickinson had some credits but needed more to graduate. He was determined to complete the Phoenix Academy program. Through his hard work, he graduated on time with more than enough credits.

“The staff at Phoenix Academy really helped me accomplish this goal,” said Dickinson. “They were very supportive. I knew from the beginning they cared about what I had been through and my future.”

He plans to attend Johnson and Wales University in Florida in the fall to study either sociology or psychology and someday work with troubled teens.

“I think I can make a difference with youth that are in the same place I was just a few years ago,” said Dickinson. “They need to know there’s no good outcome from going down the wrong path.”

Kayla Santiago

Santiago, 18, recently graduated high school after completing the Phoenix Academy program. She is the mother of two young boys. Her first child born when she was in 9th grade. She found herself in a routine of being in and out of school in order to take care of her children.

“I wasn’t in the right state of mind and wasn’t pushing myself to where I needed to be,” said Santiago. “I kept dropping out of school to take care of my kids until it finally hit me. I had to be my own motivation and do better.”

Santiago enrolled in Phoenix Academy with very few credits to her name but she was determined to graduate high school. In addition, she qualified for the Education Leading to Employment and Career Training (ELECT) Program operated by the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13. It provides pregnant and parenting youth with the support they need to complete their high school education and transition successfully into employment or continue in higher education.

With her children in daycare through the ELECT program, Santiago was able to focus her attention on obtaining the required credits to graduate.

“The teachers at Phoenix were very helpful,” said Santiago. “They understood that before learning can happen, the basic needs of the students must be met.”

Santiago is now making plans for higher education. She is interested in Wilson College and earning a bachelor’s degree in juvenile probation.

“Phoenix staff and teachers want to help every student in the school,” said Santiago. “They were so supportive in every way. They care about your life and having that makes all the difference.”

Phoenix Academy is a school of choice within the School District of Lancaster. Students choose to attend Phoenix Academy because the high-quality accelerated program advances the education and graduation of students who have fallen behind due to myriad circumstances. Phoenix Academy provides an intensive remedial program for its students that focuses on math and literacy skill development and personal growth for students in grades 7-8 coupled with an accelerated credit recovery program for students in grades 9-12.

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