When 19-year-old Teresa Campa attended classes at the Assurance Learning Academy, her 5-month-old daughter Lydia usually sat with her.
“Once I found out I was pregnant, I knew I had to finish high school,” Teresa Campa said.
Campa is one of nine teen mothers who received their high school diplomas thanks to a curriculum called the Learn4Life Hope Program, which gives students one-on-one attention and a tailored schedule.
“Having little ones, especially if they’re babies, they get sick, or if the parents need some time off, we can be flexible and allow for that, and they can catch up at a later time,” Learn4Life Hope Program Coordinator Staci Roth said.
The classroom also has a play area for toddlers.
Ten percent of the student body at the academy are teen moms, like 17-year-old Yazmin Magdeleno who got pregnant in high school.
“I was a sophomore and I was 15,” she said.
Childcare would have been a big challenge for Magdeleno, so she says she’s grateful for the program. The program’s staff, part of the Learn4Life charter school network, are there to support her.
“I can still do my work and still be a mom at the same time. I can still be me,” Magdeleno said
“We are an independent study program, so they’re able to have a personalized learning environment,” Roth said.
Besides standard high school classes such as math, history and science, students in the program also learn through other practical subjects.
“Child development, food and nutrition, personal finance,” Roth said. “We bring in parenting classes from in the community on to campus.”
Administrators say the graduating class persevered and succeeded despite many obstacles.
“We can take them and help them achieve their diploma, and then help them toward a professional direction afterwards,” Principal Victor Nardiello said.
It’s a valuable lesson for the next generation.
“I hope they can go on to a successful career and set an example for their children, provide for their family and just be great citizens in their community,” Roth said.
As Campa received her diploma on stage, she said her thoughts were with her daughter.
“I just did it all for her,” she said. “That’s the reason I finished.”