Hillsborough school aimed at ending homelessness

The brand new classrooms of the Patricia J. Sullivan Partnership School are buzzing with excitement and hope. But this isn't just a case of the first day jitters. This school caters to those starved for stability: Hillsborough County's homeless children.


"They've gone through homelessness, most of them. We don't want that cycle to ever repeat. If we can make sure that they're educated, they have the key to being successful," Metropolitan Ministries President Tim Marks said Tuesday.


50-percent of their students call Metropolitan Ministries home. The other half, live nearby or once lived in the shelter. The school is right on Metropolitan Ministries Tampa campus. Once a child's family moves on to permanent housing, the kids are encouraged to keep attending Sullivan.


"What we intend to do when they get here is keep them. Their transitions then become smaller," Sullivan Partnership School Principal Daphne Fourqurean said Tuesday.


The school's small base of 150 elementary students allows specially-trained teachers to help kids flourish.


"Children are resilient. They also have mentors. Every child in the school has a mentor that they go to," Fourqurean told FOX 13.


While the curriculum is dictated by the district, administrators understand the special circumstances surrounding many of their students.


"We know that many children that come to us have these gaps in their education because of the transitional nature of being homeless.  It's very difficult to get through the process and the paperwork to make sure children are ready for school if you're dealing with, 'Where am I going to sleep tonight? Am I sleeping in my car tonight? Am I sleeping on a park bench? Where is my family going to be safe?" Marks explained.


Inside the halls, teachers promise a safe-haven and a starting point to a brighter tomorrow.


"The whole idea is to leverage education to change the trajectory of a child's life," Marks added. 


Even when school's out, the Sullivan Partnership School is still in session. The school will also provide after-school care and educational programs during the summer.


The school is still in need of children's books and mentors. For more information, visit Metropolitan Ministries website at MetroMin.org.