Saturday Jul 9th, 2011
When Tavon Betts, 18, of South Baltimore arrived at the Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE) as a freshman in September 2007, he was reading at a fourth‐grade level.
On June 4, he will graduate at the top of his class with a GPA just above 93 percent. His progress and grades are tremendous accomplishments in themselves, but consider that Tavon has also had to overcome a great deal of adversity during high school and throughout his young life. His parents have both grappled with substance abuse and are unable to support and care for him, making him a ward of the State of Maryland. Since the age of ten, he has struggled to find a supportive home environment for himself, his twin brother, and their younger siblings. He has 14 sisters and brothers in total. Thanks to hard work and the fact that he finally found some much needed encouragement and support at ACCE, by the end of his freshmen year, Tavon was performing at grade level in his English classes. Over the past four years, he has applied himself in all his classes and balanced his schoolwork with a part‐time, afterschool job. Reflecting on his high school career, Tavon summed it up by saying, “ACCE has been my family.” In particular, he has leaned on his classmates and Cheyanne Zahrt, the school’s director of transition and student development. “Ms. Zahrt has been like my mother for four years,” said Tavon. “She’s helped me socially, mentally, and spiritually. She’s been my shoulder to cry on when I’m having a bad day.”
Outcomes & Benefits
Tavon admits he is both nervous and excited about leaving Baltimore this fall to attend college. He struggles with leaving his siblings and his support network at ACCE, but is looking forward to pursuing his educational goals and growing as a person. He has been accepted to Morehouse College in Atlanta and is waiting to get his financial aid package to ensure he can attend. He has already received two $1,000 scholarships, one from Comcast and one from Verizon. At Morehouse, Tavon plans to dual major in English and political science. His long‐term plans include returning to Baltimore to earn a master’s degree in education from Johns Hopkins University and becoming a teacher in the Baltimore City public school system.