Over the past 20 years, Por Vida Academy Charter High School (PVA) has helped several thousand teens, whose educational options were in jeopardy, to earn a high school diploma. But it’s about more than just getting a diploma. PVA teachers and staff excel at motivating these students to make a good life for themselves—something many didn’t know how or even if that could happen. Imagine the school building decorated with a light for every student’s life sparked to success by attending Por Vida Academy. It would be lit up like a giant Christmas tree.
Coming from many types of adversity, and yes, sometimes even chaos, students at PVA find a place where teachers, staff, and peers help them understand their worth. “It’s about seeing the potential of each student and encouraging them to go for it,” says Isai Melgoza Student Counselor and mentor.
Norma Mancia came to Por Vida Academy in the 9th grade, already a mother, living at Seton Home under the foster care program. Her parents were immigrants from Central America. “I had heard a lot of negativity from others about what I could expect from life because of my situation,” she said. “But that only motivated me. I didn’t want to disappoint my son who would look up to me. And, I didn’t want to disappoint myself. So I set out to prove them wrong.”
Mancia hit the books and the online high school program. She went to summer school earning the maximum credits and took advantage of all the field trips offered. But again, the difference–“It feels like a family here,” said Mancia describing an atmosphere of trust and nurturing. “People are close here, there’s lot of support and one on one help. Sure you have bad days where you need to vent, but Ms. Francko (Principal Loren Franckowiak) and others encouraged me to stay positive.”
Mancia entered St. Phillips College at sixteen. She earned Associate Degrees in Liberal Arts and Criminal Justice. She is currently working on a degree in sociology. Between semesters she substitute teaches at PVA, where she has become one of the mentors and motivators.
“It’s what you do with yourself,” Mancia concluded. “The support I found at PVA allowed me to reach my goals, and continues to be supportive if and when I need it.”
If you or someone you know could benefit from the high school programs at Por Vida Academy Charter School, call the school office 210.532.9161