TRAVERSE CITY — Samantha Day faced a mountain of hopelessness and despair.
Pregnant, broke and homeless at age 17, Samantha contemplated dropping out of high school to support her baby.
"Alone," the Traverse City resident said. "Scary. Eventually, I will run out of money and I will not be able care for my daughter."
That was just over a year ago. Today, life is much different, thanks in large part to Traverse City High School, a safety net that saved her.
Today, she smiles. Samantha earned her high school diploma, her daughter is healthy, and she attends Northwestern Michigan College.
She hopes to be a social worker some day.
"I'm very good at giving advice with everything I've gone through," Samantha said. "I know what people's feelings are and how they have to look for help."
Samantha said a troubled childhood left her with few trusted family members. She enrolled at Traverse City High School while pregnant and met Joan Abbott, of the alternative high school's Students in Transition Empowerment Program, or STEP.
Abbott feared Samantha was about to drop out. She and others convinced her to stick it out and rallied resources to help a scared girl. High school students with children frequently have only a tenuous hold on school, she said.
"(They) are always in danger of dropping out because they are trying to figure out how to survive," Abbott said. "Often students will say, 'There's no way I can go to school. I have to take care of my daughter.' And we say, 'No, there is a way, and we are going to help you out.'"
A critical step: finding Samantha transportation to and from school. Abbott and others helped her navigate the Bay Area Transportation Authority bus system so her baby could accompany her to classes.
The baby received care at the school's day care program. Samantha was allowed to leave class to feed her.
Samantha landed in a local host home for a few months with the help of Catholic Human Services until her life stabilized and she moved in with her grandparents, Paul and Sandy Schaub of Traverse City.
Abbott described Samantha as extremely bright, and she participated in the school's dual enrollment program, which allows students to earn high school credits while they attend college classes.
"We saw she was an excellent student and she was highly motivated," Abbott said.
Traverse City High School made all the difference. Today, the once-despondent teen works at Kmart and Birchwood Nursing Home to support herself and her daughter.
Today, her grandparents beam with pride when they speak of Samantha.
"We just took her in because she shows us that she's willing to make something out of herself," Paul Schaub said. "She's really working at it."
Sandy Schaub is thankful for the school, the STEP program and others who helped her granddaughter.
"Rather than being a high school dropout, there was a place where she could go," Sandy Schaub said.
The STEP program helped about 500 kids from across the region last year. Students who lack permanent housing qualify.
Abbott enjoys seeing students like Samantha succeed.
"It gives me hope for kids who've been dealt a raw hand," Abbott said. "If we put our heads together as a community and do what each of us can do well, we can serve these students, and their potential is unleashed."
Former homeless teen mom turned life around at TC High School
TRAVERSE CITY — Samantha Day faced a mountain of hopelessness and despair.
Northwestern Bank reaches sale agreement
TRAVERSE CITY - Northwestern Bank will be purchased by Midland-based Chemical Bank for $120 million cash, the financial institutions said.Continued ...
Quartet crosses ice to N. Manitou
A moment of pure terror surged through Tom Bisbee when the ice cracked beneath his feet. The cold came next as he plunged into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan nearly 1.5 miles from the nearest piece of dry land.Continued ...
Hearing planned for Garfield theater complex
The public will have a chance to comment on one of the area’s largest post-recession development projects.Continued ...
3 injured in separate crashes
A Mayfield man remains hospitalized after a snowmobile crashed into a shore station at a frozen southern Michigan lake.Continued ...
Kingsley oil well erupts in flames
A mechanical problem likely sparked a spectacular eruption of flames from an oil and natural gas well near Kingsley, a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality official said.Continued ...
Attic fire damages East Bay Township home
A fire destroyed most of an East Bay Township home’s roof before firefighters extinguished the blaze.Continued ...
Rec authority seeks facility manager
The joint recreational authority of Traverse City and Garfield Township won’t wait for a $650,000 makeover of the Cathedra Barn to start planning events.Continued ...
- Monday, March 10, 2014
Sheriff: GPS led Canadian duo astray
A craving for milkshakes and faulty GPS directions turned a young Canadian duo's late night quest to find a McDonald's restaurant into an overnight misadventure along a Kalkaska back road.Continued ...
Inuit art collectors make the trip
To say Ann Conway loves Inuit art is an understatement. Every available space in her Traverse area townhouse is covered with intricately carved figurines.Continued ...
Winner dedicated to social work, ed.
This year's recipient of the Sara Hardy Humanitarian Award was so shocked to be selected by the Traverse City Human Rights Commission that she called back the chairwoman two days later to make sure she'd correctly heard the news.Continued ...
Frat takes to road for MS
Quentin Callahan slumped in the corner of a booth at Mackinac Brewing, eyes closed, hood over his head.Continued ...
- Sunday, March 9, 2014
Zoning question to delay decision
A decision whether to use a city-owned warehouse for an emergency homeless shelter likely will extend into summer as city planners devise a new zoning ordinance.Continued ...
Heroin floods court docket
Another day, another heroin case. Illegal drugs inundated Grand Traverse County’s court docket last week.Continued ...
Taxes paid, code violations still remain
A downstate bank paid Sugar Loaf Resort’s outstanding taxes, but whomever owns the property needs to address a slew of building code violations before any major changes can occur at the long-shuttered Leelanau County winter retreat.Continued ...
Judge sides with township in Kasson gravel case
A local judge ruled against a landowner who challenged Kasson Township zoning rules because she wanted to mine gravel on her Leelanau County property.Continued ...
Low-income housing project lost
A development group lost control of 15 acres on the city’s west side, and along with it their proposal to develop 102 low-income, work-force housing apartments.Continued ...
- Saturday, March 8, 2014
How to finance history?
Talks continue between a host of local nonprofit officials who could overlap their organizations for history’s sake.Continued ...
Parking-space dining latest twist for downtown TC
The opportunity to dine in a street-side parking space could become the latest epicurean delight — or potential nightmare, in one official’s mind — to arrive in downtown Traverse City.Continued ...
'Good Samaritan' injured in wreck needs help
They called Scott Peterson “Good Samaritan” after the late January car wreck that nearly killed him. But friends and family said Peterson, a man who would “give a stranger the shirt off his back” needs some payback for a lifetime of good deeds.Continued ...
Union pact on TCAPS agenda
Traverse City Area Public Schools board members will consider a contract with the Food Service Employees Association, the purchase of 11 new school buses and employee layoffs, resignations and retirements at their meeting Monday night.Continued ...
Nominate an outstanding educator
Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District wants to hear from the community about area educators who have made a difference.Continued ...
Two arrested in drug bust
Traverse Narcotics Team officers arrested a Detroit man and woman after a months-long drug probe.Continued ...
- Friday, March 7, 2014
High School Sports Scoreboard: 03/07/2014
A roundup of scores from today's boys district basketball tournament games:Continued ...
Benzonia woman accused of prescription fraud
A Benzonia woman faces a felony charge after authorities said she fraudulently obtained hundreds of prescription pills.Continued ...
Judge: Gay marriage trial ruling within 2 weeks
A federal judge said he expects to make a decision within two weeks of today's closing arguments in a challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.Continued ...
- Northwestern Bank reaches sale agreement