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TPS charter school for pregnant teens, young mothers looking to expand enrollment

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Enrollment is down at a time when a non-traditional school is desperately needed in Toledo and Lucas County. Open for just over 10 years, Polly Fox Academy is an alternative high school for pregnant teens and young moms.

Polly Fox Academy does more than give young moms a chance to earn a high school degree after giving birth; it gives many a second chance. It's a second chance many girls aren't taking advantage of. Polly Fox leaders want to change that by getting their message out.

For many women, the news is life changing.

"I was at Woodward and I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant," said Polly Fox student Julianne Farmer, now 19-years-old.

"I was a sophomore when I found out I got pregnant. I was attending Notre Dame Academy," said Polly Fox student Artesia Isaac-Adams, now 18-years-old.

For teens like Farmer and Isaac-Adams, the news also comes with a question of completing school.

"Education became important to me when I found out I was pregnant. It was all fun and games until then. That's when it got serious. I realized I had to have an education for my child. I didn't even see graduation in my future until I came to Polly Fox," said Farmer.

That's where Polly Fox Academy comes in. It's a Toledo Public Schools sponsored charter school that opened in 2003. It's an alternative high school for pregnant and parenting teens in grades 7 through 12.

School leaders know there is a need for an academy like Polly Fox. Lucas County has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Ohio, but the academy's enrollment numbers are down. School leaders say they know there are more girls out there they can help reach their potential.

"We know the girls are out there and we're just trying to figure out ways to get them to come to school. You know, your life is not over if you have a baby. Sometimes you can just see the light bulb go on as they start earning credits and it's like, 'Oh maybe I can do this,' and they really kick into gear. We've have kids who have done total turnarounds here," said Louise Kaufmann, the lead teacher at Polly Fox Academy.

Classes are tailored to the young moms. There are the four core subjects but also parenting classes that teach CPR, discipline, and child development.

Farmer and Isaac-Adams both graduate this year. Isaac-Adams was just accepted to Mercy College to be a registered nurse. Farmer is applying to Owens to be a social worker.

"It's fun here. You're just comfortable because you're not judged by anyone and it's like a second home," said Isaac-Adams.

"My initial reaction was 'No, I'm not going.' But then I came and got a tour. It looked pretty cool so I said I'll try it. And I can honestly say that's the best decision I ever made," said Farmer.

Those interested in enrolling can call 419-720-4532. For more information visit http://www.pollyfox.org

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