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Families Celebrate Fresh Start at South Carolina Charter Schools

May 16, 2024 | Jeffrey Good

Families Celebrate Fresh Start at South Carolina Charter Schools image

Grandparents, parents and guardians play a vital role in the education of the young people in their lives. The familiar adage — ”You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child” — rings true for adults seeking the best path through high school for the next generation. 

For students and families seeking choice outside of traditional public education, two South Carolina charter schools — Lowcountry Acceleration Academy in N. Charleston and Carolina Shores Acceleration Academy in Myrtle Beach — have emerged to offer a life-changing alternative. 

Like all public charter schools, the academies are free of charge. Unlike most schools, they offer a flexible and deeply individualized path to a full-fledged high school diploma. 

Flexibility to Balance Health and School

LAA Tyrese and Connie Williams Connie Williams makes no apologies for advocating for her grandson, Tyrese. When he’s having trouble in school, she’s going to show up. “I’m a very hands-on grandmother.” 

But Tyrese and his grandmother faced what seemed to be an insurmountable challenge at the traditional school he used to attend. The crowded classrooms pushed the shy young man further into his shell, and the all-day schedule made it hard for him to manage his diabetes. 

“Many days I would have to go and pick him up because his blood sugar was too high,” she says. “He cannot focus, he gets very fatigued and can’t concentrate.” 

Just as she was losing hope, Ms. Williams found out about Lowcountry Acceleration Academy (LAA), a public charter high school that offers learners like Tyrese a quiet environment, ample one-on-one support and a schedule flexible enough to work around his health conditions. 

Grandmother and grandson couldn’t be happier. 

“The staff is doing everything they possibly can to help him graduate,” says Ms. Williams, whose grandson is able to make progress both on campus and, when he’s attending to health needs, at home. “The school is excellent for anyone who struggles with traditional school.” 


A Place to Grow

In Myrtle Beach, Carolina Shores Acceleration Academy (CSAA) provided Qayasia Waiters a place to learn where she feels like more than a name on an attendance roster. 

CSAA Alex Thornton “In traditional school, she didn't feel supported, she didn't feel heard,” says Alex Thornton, Qayasia’s aunt and guardian. “She didn't feel like she could go to a teacher and really get that one-on-one time that she needed to learn and grow.”

At CSAA, Qayasia formed close connections with the educators, advocates and counselors, as well as with other graduation candidates — that’s what the academies call their students to remind them of their goals. Her academics are strong and her self-confidence has grown, so much that she recently was invited to appear in a television program about the pioneering Black astronaut Dr. Ronald McNair. 

“Here, she feels very included and kind of like a part of a family,” says Alex. “That's just really built her up and made her feel good and made her feel welcomed. It's just been a drastic difference … It’s been wonderful.”

Bully-Free Zone

Natalie Rojas brought her daughter Antonia to the United States from her native Chile in hopes of finding the opportunity for a better life — opportunity that begins with a good education. But when Antonia found herself being teased or shunned by classmates, her enthusiasm for school withered. 

“She never felt supported by the school,” Ms. Rojas said. “She was being bullied so hard and the school wouldn’t do anything about it.

“She didn’t even want to go to school,” she continued. “She was going to fail the year if I didn’t transfer her.” 

LAA Natalie and Antonia Rojas 1

At LAA, Antonia and her mother found the support they had so desperately sought. Educators welcomed Antonia to a calm learning space and provided her with the academic and social/emotional support she needs. 

And every day, graduation candidates are encouraged to treat  each other with kindness and respect. Antonia is thriving in the bullying-free environment. 

“She really loves it,” says Ms. Rojas. “She feels smart again, she feels like she’s getting the help she needs — It’s been the best experience she’s had in school.” Shortly after Ms. Rojas celebrated her daughter’s progress, Antonia completed her final course and earned the right to graduate with the Class of 2024. 

CSAA Tony ThorntonConnie Williams, Natalie Rojas and the Thorntons say they would recommend South Carolina’s Acceleration Academies charter schools without reservation to other families looking for an alternative to traditional public school. 

“I really, really, really appreciate Acceleration Academies. I'm so glad we found it,” says Tony Thornton, Qayasia’s uncle. 

“This environment has been very, very beneficial to my niece, who I love dearly,” he adds. “I can see the compassion from everyone who works here. And I love that. Because in society that's what we need. You are bringing much more than education, as far as school is related. You're allowing life education, as well.”


Lowcountry Acceleration Academy serves students in Charleston and surrounding counties, Carolina Shores Acceleration Academy serves Horry and surrounding counties in South Carolina. Both academies enroll new students year-round. Click here to fill out an online enrollment form.

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