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4 stories show what happens when schools focus on students, not stats

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4 stories show what happens when schools focus on students, not stats

By crafting the curriculum around each student, SailFuture is leading a new way in education.

Photo collage of four SailFuture students

Schools across America often boast statistics showing how their students exceed standards. But such focus on the top test-takers leaves other students with different skills and ambitions feeling abandoned. SailFuture Academy, an innovative tuition-free private high school in Florida, is shedding the statistics and finding success doing something totally different: shaping its curriculum so every student finds what excites them and takes the first steps towards living a life of meaning. 

The faculty at SailFuture helps students who didn’t quite fit in the traditional education setting find their unique talents using hands-on learning. This builds confidence in students and sparks ideas on how they can use their skills to pursue fulfilling lives. In turn, the faculty find themselves inspired. 

SailFuture embodies a transformative approach to education, one that realizes that forcing students to meet the top-down standards of traditional schools just discourages them and leaves them worse off. Success comes when students can freely discover, develop, and apply their unique gifts to benefit others and can imagine a life outside of what they currently know. 

Below are four stories from SailFuture students and faculty that show what’s possible outside the traditional school model for educators, students, and families.


Alexander Delarosa, SailFuture student


Photo of SailFuture student Alexander Delarosa


Alexander Delarosa didn’t have the same goals as most high school students. He wasn’t thinking about the SAT, applying to colleges, or eventually attending a university. 

Instead, Delarosa wanted to work, provide for his two younger sisters, help his parents pay the rent, and maybe even start his own business. 

The traditional school system didn’t have much interest in helping Delarosa reach these goals that didn’t involve higher education — but SailFuture did. 

“[The teachers I had before] weren't focused on what you wanted to do. They weren't focused on what interests you had. But when I came to SailFuture, they’re more personal. They cater to more of the interests you enjoy and what you wanted to do and build the curriculum around you,” Delarosa explained. 

He brings the skills he is learning from working at a restaurant to the SailFuture classroom and says, “now with those classes I'm able to learn more about an LLC, how to keep my own business, how to keep it running and how to make it to where it's something I want to do.”


Diedrea Doyley, SailFuture residential program director 


Photo of SailFuture student Diedrea Doyley


When Diedrea Doyley became the residential program director at SailFuture, she assumed her role would be to change the lives of the students for the better. 

She didn’t expect that she’d be transformed too. 

Through SailFuture, Diedrea became a stronger, more resilient person. She began viewing her coworkers and students as her support network as much as they viewed her as theirs. 

“I think I’ve learned to really dig deep within myself. Prior to being here, I don’t think I had enough confidence in who I was,” Doyley said. 

“I think working for SailFuture and being a part of this organization has changed me in the best way possible," she added. "And the reason I say that is because I am a part of a family that genuinely cares about me as a person and the goals I have set for myself, whether in my personal or professional life.”

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Bruce Martin, SailFuture graduate


Photo of SailFuture student Bruce Martin


Bruce Martin was one of the first graduates of SailFuture, where he now volunteers. Before joining, he got into fights at public school and skipped classes. At SailFuture, he learned how to channel his energy and anger through Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 

Now, as a graduate, Martin has committed himself to fitness full-time. He works as a personal trainer and group fitness coach at the jiu-jitsu gym where he originally started to train. 

It’s a future he never would have imagined for himself before joining SailFuture.  

“Being in SailFuture and learning to work in that physical environment opened up my realm to possibly a career of working with my body, working with my hands, and I thought that it opened up that area to where I could learn a lot more and just kind of use it for jiu-jitsu, for working out, for teaching others,” Martin said. “I felt like I could learn and had that chance to grow and to grow my education and to be more professional going into my adult years.”


Christina Blanchard, SailFuture counselor 


Photo of SailFuture student Christina Blanchard


While Christina Blanchard loved her career as a school counselor, she was beginning to feel burned out with the traditional model of school counseling. 

Then she found SailFuture. 

She went from pre-scheduled hour-long appointments to a flexible schedule to get to know students on a personal level. The switch from rigid schedules to a focus on relationships gave her a renewed sense of purpose in her work.  

“Having a smaller caseload is definitely more beneficial in the sense of — I have the time. I feel like I have the time to really prepare to invest and to really get creative with what’s going to work for that specific kid,” Blanchard explained. “It gives me a lot more freedom to do that than any other role has given me before. I think it allows for more of my naturally more adventurous spirit to come out and be utilized.”


More on SailFuture:

  • Go deeper on SailFuture’s secret sauce for transforming education
  • Discover why there's a movement of families choosing alternatives like SailFuture
  • 📽️ Watch SailFuture students and teachers apply hands-on learning on the high seas


Innovative Florida private school SailFuture exemplifies the wave of change coming to K-12 education. Frustrations with the status quo and better alternatives are pushing parents to look for alternatives to the traditional school model.



SailFuture Academy is supported by Stand Together Foundation, which partners with the nation’s most transformative nonprofits to break the cycle of poverty 

Learn more about Stand Together’s education efforts and explore ways you can partner with us.

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