Smiling girl with glasses in a yellow shirt stands in front of a window overlooking downtown Sacramento, California

Student Spotlight: How One Student is Championing Public School Choice

Tori B. has been a Visions student since first grade. Beginning in the Home School Academy, she worked closely with her parents to pursue her education. Now, Tori is working more independently in the University Prep Academyexperiencing firsthand how public school choice, and the flexibility of a school like Visions, allows students like her to succeed.

“Everyone has to understand their own journey,” explains Tori. “University Prep is an individual plan for each student, so it’s great for unique people like me, or students who want to do more than a standard, one-size-fits-all school.The flexibility has helped me overcome my challenges and grow.”

Tori especially credits her current and former teachers, Sarah Grassinger and Hilary Ducharme, for helping her find her way through school. Now in the 11th grade, Tori is nervous about being a junior, but knows that she has people in her corner who will support and encourage her every step of the way.

“My teachers have been amazing. I really appreciate how they help me navigate school and stay on track,” shares Tori. “All of the Visions staff on my IEP team actually listened to me and what I felt when helping me plan my high school career. That helped me have more confidence.”

With one-on-one relationships with her teachers, the flexibility to create her own learning environment and the opportunity to receive an individualized education, Tori understands and appreciates what non-classroom based charter schools have to offer students like herself. Recently, Tori got to celebrate the value of public school choice by presenting an award to one of our local senators.

“I presented the Golden Apple Award to Senator Roger Niello on behalf of California Parents for Public Virtual Education, which advocates for schools like Visions,” shares Tori. “I was able to talk with Senator Niello about how school choice was important to students like me and many other families, and thanked him for his work to support children and school choice.” 

The Golden Apple Award is presented to a policy maker who has demonstrated dedication to ensuring students have options to attend a school that works for them. Tori was joined by Folsom Mayor Rosario Rodriguez, who also has a student at Visions (check out her post!), and got to spend some time at the Legislative Office Building advocating for alternative education.

Tori presenting the 2023 Golden Apple Award to Senator Roger Niello.

From left to right: Mayor Rosario Rodriguez (Folsom), Tab Berg (Tori’s father), Tori and Senator Niello.

Get to Know Tori

When she’s not championing public school choice, you can find Tori at meetings or on field trips with the Champions Club at Visions. Outside of school, Tori loves reading, going to the movies with her family and playing at the lake with her dog, Wallie. She also loves spending time with her twin sister Melissa, listening to music, playing video games or just talking about life. She wants to do volunteer work with animals or support NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) babies when she’s older, already setting her sights on further service to her community.

“Although being ‘independent’ is challenging, I learned to take responsibility for my time, but still have support to encourage my learning experience,” shares Tori. “A lot of that has to do with my parents who helped with home school, and my teachers like Mrs. Grassinger and Mrs. Ducharme, who helped me overcome my disabilities to learn and succeed. I really adore all of my teachers and therapists and hope that I take advantage of their support and they can be proud of what I accomplish.”