A safe haven is how Phoenix Academy could be described. The new school of excellence has taken their commitment to students to a new level, partnering with Wellspring Living to make a true difference.
If you walk through the halls of Phoenix Academy, you will find eager students, a warm staff and a clothing boutique that’ll make you stop and notice. The clothing store is neatly organized with brand new clothes for men, women and children. It offers hair care products, jewelry, accessories, shoes and is a free resource for Phoenix Academy students.
The clothing boutique is apart of Wellspring Living’s Youth Academy, the schools partner, which provides wrap-around services. The program offers a food pantry, counseling, tutoring, laundry services, after school activities and a host of other services all helping to meet the needs of the students they serve.
“We base a lot of our programming around the Adverse Childhood Experience study,” said Executive Director Mary Frances Bowley. “This helps us provide the right services, where students are more likely to move forward in their lives and reach success. This is why services like the clothing boutique are so important. We also provide shower kits and laundry services, where students can pick up clean clothes at the end of the school day. We’re always trying to figure out how to better serve the Phoenix Academy students.”
Employee training is important to the organization. They’ve hosted several workshops, where educators are taught how to identify barriers students may be facing. The training also encourage a shift in response to traumatic circumstances students may have experienced.
Te’Erica Laney, a Phoenix Academy senior, is a success story of the schools partnership with Wellspring Living. She, like many other Phoenix Academy students, uses the resources offered by the program to increase well being and academic performance.
“I needed help with housing, clothing and food,” Te’Erica said. “I have a four-year-old daughter, who also needed clothes. My mom and I stayed with family members in a crowded home. I soon realized I needed a job and a place to live.”
This is where Program Coordinator Dionysia Ambrose, affectionately known as Ms. Di Di, stepped in to help.
“I said to Ms. Di Di, I need a place to live and food for my family, and she allowed me to go into the food pantry and pull out pans of lasagna to take home,” Te’Erica said.
Later, Te’Erica realized she needed even more support to help ease her responsibilities, so she quickly enlisted the help of the Wellspring Living staff. She received further resources, with one of those resources being a trip to the clothing boutique.
“At the time, I needed clothes for a job interview, so Ms. Di Di took me to the clothing boutique to pick out business casual wear,” she said. “I got the job the same day. I was so happy for her support.”
Te’Erica knew she wanted more for her life and she credits her daughter for inspiring her to shift focus.
“My daughter motivated me to change,” said Phoenix Academy senior. “I wanted her to see me as a role model. She gave me so much power. I also have a support team, through my mom and grandmother.”
Te’Erica is now performing better in the classroom and has more stability at home. She expects to graduate in May 2020.
This is Wellspring Living’s second school year, fostering hope and providing life-changing support to Atlanta Public Schools students. The organization worked closely with the District to partner in a way that would serve students for years to come.
“This has been an incredible experience. We had the first partnership conversation in March 2018, and one of the things that was most important was ensuring the program would be funded long term. We applied for a grant through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, so this is a state funded program,” Bowley said.
The organization looks forward to their continued partnership with the Phoenix Academy and is continuously creating new ideas that lift the District’s students and communities.