Terell didn’t take his education seriously until he came Brooklyn Democracy Academy (BDA) in Brownsville, Brooklyn. JCCA’s small, academically rigorous transfer high school (in partnership with the NYC Dept. of Education) is designed to reengage and support students who have dropped out or fallen behind. Small classes, highly qualified teachers and individualized relationships with Advocate Counselors provide guidance and assistance, enabling students to recognize their strengths and achieve their goals.

“I was just taking up space in my other high school. I wasn’t really motivated. But the minute I came to BDA, I felt comfortable. Everyone here made me feel supported and helped me believe I could go for it and succeed,” he says. “Tashawnee, my counselor, made sure I got to class every day, and that I stayed and didn’t cut out. If I was late, I heard about it! It made me want to stick with it, to take my time and learn what I was supposed to learn. I was always interested in science and math, but I even got into history here. I felt all the love and it became easy to do what I was supposed to do. BDA matured me—there was never a day I regretted coming to school.”

Terell’s dedication and the support of the BDA staff have paid off wonderfully. Terell graduated this past June and was accepted to several colleges, but finally decided to attend Fulton Montgomery Community College in Johnston, NY. “I’ve been in New York City a long time and I really want to be in a new setting and experience something different. I’m looking forward to being upstate,” he continued. Aside from college, Terell doesn’t have any specific plans about his future yet: “I don’t want to make any decisions too fast; I want to take my time to decide what I really want to do,” he adds.

“We have tremendous people working with our kids. Tashawnee Guarriello, BDA Advocate Counselor, and Ms. Khadijah Allen, our Parent Coordinator from Terell’s community, played a major role in Terell’s achievements and exemplified how successful the collaboration and partnership is between the Department of Education and JCCA,” explains Cherise Littlejohn-Ross, BDA Program Director.

When asked if his mother was proud to have a high school graduate in the family, Terell responded modestly, “She’s pretty excited, I guess.”