New charter school in Hillsborough serves exceptional students - WFLA News Channel 8

New charter school in Hillsborough serves exceptional students

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TEMPLE TERRACE, FL (WFLA) - In classroom 205 at Focus Academy, students cheer each other on during classes. When a student answers a question right, the others congratulate their peer. It's a different atmosphere from a traditional school. The students have a range of challenges. Some are on the autism spectrum. Others have learning disabilities. The Academy opened this year as a new charter school in Hillsborough County.

Its 15-year-old student Austin Schoon likes it more than his former school.

"What I like most is that there are no bullies," Schoon said. "I had a real problem with bullies at my other school."

School principal Frances McCrimmon says there are no bullies in her school.

"That was one of the first things parents and kids asked about," McCrimmon said. "'Will there be bullies at your school?' I said no. And there are no bullies at this school."

Some students feel safe for the first time. Teachers even give out their cell phone numbers for students to call them for homework help. Jack Lamb a former Hillsborough County School Board Member helped start the school.

"A lot of times kids are placed inappropriately," Lamb said. "Here, they've found their niche."

The students attend the academy from ages 14-22. After that they get job training. Schoon, who loves math, says he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

"This changed my life. All the way," he said.
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