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Ellerie Hamner: ‘You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To’

January 24, 2024 | Jeffrey Good

Ellerie Hamner: ‘You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To’ image

At her old high school, the crowded classrooms and bright lights felt overwhelming to Ellerie Hamner. And because she has epilepsy, having to get up early each morning to begin a traditional school day jarred her system in a way that sometimes caused petit mal seizures. 

“During spring break of my sophomore year, I decided I would drop out and enroll here,” Ellerie said of her decision to come to Sarasota Acceleration Academies (SAA). 

Female student stands smiling at camera.It proved just the right move. Because of SAA’s flexible scheduling, Ellerie was able to come to campus on a timetable that worked for her. In contrast to the chaos of her old school, the atmosphere was quiet and studious. Best of all, she found the kind of support she needed from educators there. 

That support began the moment she walked through the door to a warm greeting from graduation candidate advocate Frank Cruz. “He makes me want to come in. He makes me happy.” 

As is true for many high schoolers, math is a challenge for Ellerie. At her old school, her teacher seemed to give up on her. At Sarasota Acceleration Academies, math coach Khaliah Augustin never did. She worked patiently with Ellerie until she mastered the material. 

“She helped break down quadratic equations and formulas, it was really amazing,” she says. When I felt like I wanted to procrastinate about math, I knew I could come here and just get it done. When I felt like giving up, I didn’t give up.”

The support Ellerie received went beyond the academic. Because of her vulnerability to seizures, SAA Director Michelle Llinas, Augustin or Cruz would walk her to the city bus she uses to get home and make sure she was settled safely into her seat. 

“They wait until I’m on the bus,” says Ellerie, who is planning to study art and participate in the equestrian club in college. “They’re so kind.” 

The support she received at SAA, combined with her own determination, have given her a new confidence in herself. She realizes, she says, that “you can do anything you put your mind to.”


Sarasota Acceleration Academies enrolls students year-round. To learn more about the flexible education high school program in Sarasota, Florida, request more information. Interested students can apply for enrollment through our online application.

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