CATHEDRAL CITY – Stepping Stones helps turn lives around, taking in troubled students and help them on road to success. But amid the shaky economy, that help is coming to an end with the school’s closure.
Students, educators, and families are devastated to see the school go.
“I feel sad because I’m getting the right education here,” said Devon Johnson, a 10-year-old student at the academy.
Twenty-two students attend the non-profit school and dozens more are waiting to enroll. Administrators say the schoolis an alternative to a traditional education.
“At my old school, I didn’t like it because I got in trouble and I got bad grades,” said Devon.
But after just three months at Stepping Stones, Devon’s life changed.
“The difference in my grandson for the way he responds to me and to the family –it’s just unbelievable,”Devon’s grandmother Rita Ross explained.
“The school has done a great job in touching the lives of these kids. We’re seeing families transformed. Kids who were failing in school are now pulling As and Bs,” Stepping Stones director Pastor Darrin Erb proclaims.
Stepping Stones opened about four years ago in Cathedral City, but, with the weak economy, two of the school’s main sponsors could no longer afford to donate to the program. Now, the school can’t afford to stay open.
“I’ve invested everything personally,” saidPastor Erb.”I sold everything I could possibly sell because I believe that much in the students, and the program works.”
As the Valley’s only troubled youth school closes, the students will go back to where they struggled and failed. Their families worry these students won’t have the stepping stones needed for success.
“The families that were struggling before will go back into chaos and most of these students will end up in jail,” says Pastor Erb.
“I don’t want him (Devon) to become a statistic,” said Ross.
Stepping Stones plans to close Friday, January 23. The students and families are holding out hope. They’re looking to the community for help. Any donation will make a difference.
To find out how you can help, you can call Pastor Erb at 760-902-1374 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.