Tampa's Pepin Academies helps students transition to success - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa's Pepin Academies helps students transition to success

Posted: Updated:
Students from the Pepin Transitional Program are training on the job at the Hillsborough Public Defender's office.  Some of their duties include digitizing documents and information for case files. Students from the Pepin Transitional Program are training on the job at the Hillsborough Public Defender's office. Some of their duties include digitizing documents and information for case files.
One of the many successful students from the Pepin Transitional Program, Jonathan Temaul, is now employed full time in Public Defender Julianne Holt's office. One of the many successful students from the Pepin Transitional Program, Jonathan Temaul, is now employed full time in Public Defender Julianne Holt's office.
Julianne Holt, Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit, and co-worker Maggie Gambrell at work. Julianne Holt, Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit, and co-worker Maggie Gambrell at work.
Students spend part of their day in a classroom and part of their day on the job training. Students spend part of their day in a classroom and part of their day on the job training.
Julianne Holt observing students in the Pepin Transitional Program's classroom. Julianne Holt observing students in the Pepin Transitional Program's classroom.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Ever heard of the Pepin Academies?  If not, you're probably not alone.  The tuition-free public charter school specializes in students with all kinds of learning disabilities, and one of its most aggressive programs successfully places those kids in some pretty high stress work environments. 

"They really are boots on the ground from the very beginning," explained Hillsborough County Public Defender Julianne Holt. 

Back in 2006 Pepin Academies founder Chrisha Scolaro approached Holt about creating a transitional program inside the Public Defenders Office.  Holt agreed to allow young adults with varying learning disabilities to input data and convert backlogged files to digital images.

"After the very first year we realized, hey this is working out really great.  You could actually see the progress that was being made, but more importantly you saw the growth. You saw the growth of the students," Holt said.

Scolaro says transitional programs like the one at the Public Defenders Office are invaluable for Pepin Academies students who admittedly have disabilities but certainly have plenty of capabilities too. 

"It doesn't matter if you have a student with a disability, you as a taxpayer will end up providing for these students to sit on their couch at home.  if we don't transition them into the work force and independent living," Scolaro said.

Among the transitional program's success stories are Maggie Gambrell who became a full time employee at the Public Defenders Office after finishing at Pepin. Jonathan Temaul also snagged a full time position nearly five years ago. 

He says he now helps other Pepin students any time he can. "I sometimes help them out. Sometimes I do. Just got to give them a little push. Just a tiny little push," Temaul said.

And really, Holt says, that's all that's happening in her office -- a push towards success. 

"I always want to end every single day at the end of the day knowing that I made a difference in someone's life, and if I don't open the door for people who need the door opened who will," she said.

Pepin Academies students rotate through a series of transitional programs throughout downtown Tampa at places like the county building, Tampa Police Department, TECO and People's Gas. 
     
The school's major fundraiser is set for May 16th, and officials plan to open a satellite school in Riverview this fall.

 

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:59 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:59:58 GMT
    This Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in PinellasThis Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in Pinellas
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
  • RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:45:14 GMT
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
  • How thieves clone your credit cards

    How thieves clone your credit cards

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:15:02 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.