“Yamilex never meets a stranger,” Clarence Degrate, coordinator of the Methodist Children’s Home Day Student program, said with a smile. “She wants to connect with you. It is nice to have that bright light at the charter school every day.”
Connecting is something Yamilex, affectionately known as “Yami,” has learned to do well. The 17-year-old admitted her journey has not been easy, but she is motivated to reach her goals.
Yamilex, a junior at the University of Texas—University Charter School on the MCH Waco campus, lost her grandfather when she was a freshman attending a public school in Waco.
“School was my escape from that sadness,” Yamilex shared, tearing up at the memory. “School helped me get through that hard time. It reminded me that my education would help me be somebody.”
A few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Yamilex’s high school experience. With school going virtual, Yamilex found herself losing connection to her educational community and fell behind.
“I almost lost a year’s worth of credits because I got so behind,” Yamilex said. Rebecca, her mother, remembers her daughter struggling.
“She was exhausted after school every day because she was not receiving the one-on-one support she needed,” Rebecca said.
One day Yamilex overheard a co-worker – an alumna of the MCH Day Student program – talking on the phone with Amy Grisham, director of school support at MCH.
“When I heard how caring Ms. Amy was during that phone call, I knew I had to call her myself,” Yamilex recalled. “Our first conversation went really well. I knew immediately I wanted to sign up for the Day Student program.”
MCH launched the Day Student program at the charter school in 2012 for students in the Waco community needing a smaller academic environment. Since its inception, the program has served 52 students in grades 6-12, with 20 spots available each year.
“Yami has been a go-getter since she walked through our doors,” Grisham said. “She has really embraced the program and has such a good attitude. Yami is so resilient and is making things happen for herself.”
At the charter school, Yamilex caught up on her coursework and enrolled in dual credit courses through the University of Texas. Beyond the educational support, Yamilex said Degrate and the Day Student program have been there for her entire family through car rides home after school and even sending food from the cafeteria for Yamilex to share with her family.
“Mr. Clarence is like my grandpa,” Yamilex laughed. “Every teacher and staff member really care about all of us students. I know I can always call anyone at the charter school, even after I graduate.”
Yamilex will graduate in 2023 and hopes to pursue a career in cosmetology, nursing or law. Her mother has complete confidence in her ability to succeed.
“Like any other parent, my dream for my daughter is for her to graduate high school and pursue whatever she wants in college,” Rebecca said. “What Yamilex is learning and doing now in the Day Student program is going to help her in the long run. I know she is going places.”
Yamilex is grateful for the support she has found in the Day Student program and said she would encourage any student who is struggling to consider the charter school at MCH.
“It is hard to open up to people sometimes, but it is so easy to here,” she said. “These are people who really care. You just need to make those connections.”
Day Students are eligible to participate in all MCH extracurricular activities such as athletics, summer camp, homecoming, and prom. Day Student graduates also have access to Transition Services and Independent Living resources, including scholarships for college or vocational school. The program maintains a 100 percent graduation rate.
For more information about the Day Student program at MCH, call the school office at (254) 750-2600 to speak with Clarence Degrate, Day Student program coordinator, or Allyson Welch, Day Student case manager.