Elijah Goes To Tabor

When Margaret Ferrell, a cardiologist at a local hospital, started working with Elijah, a very bright 8th grader living at the Harbour House shelter in New Bedford, she recognized that her student had special gifts. He was taking honor classes in school but he was not working to his full potential. Elijah rarely had homework to do during tutoring, so Margaret would go on the computer and challenge Elijah to discover new things he was interested in. Elijah said that what he liked best about his tutor was she was smart and never treated him differently because he was homeless. She made him feel like a normal kid!

Despite living in a homeless shelter for over a year, Elijah scored in the 95th percentile on his PSAT test. Although Elijah was extremely bright, he was not involved in any school activities or sports, and this concerned his tutor. Margaret helped Elijah find a way to connect with his classmates at school by encouraging him to join the Student Council. She told him that it was important to be involved in school and make new friends. Elijah was elected to be the Student Council treasurer. His tutor was ecstatic! Elijah took his position seriously; he was proud to be the treasurer. He told his tutor that the school dance he helped plan raised the most money they had ever raised before.

Towards the end of Elijah’s 8th grade year, Margaret recommended that Elijah apply to Tabor Academy, an elite private high school located in Marion, MA. She told the Director of the shelter that Elijah deserved to go to a private school and we all needed to help him get there. Margaret made it her mission to work with Elijah and his mom to help him complete the application, prepare for the admissions test and rehearse for his interview at Tabor. Margaret also worked with the staff to make sure Elijah had transportation to all of his Tabor appointments.

Elijah did very well on his test and interview, but clearly lacked the financial resources he needed to attend. Tabor Academy sent Elijah a letter of acceptance, but stated that they could not offer him any financial assistance at that time. Elijah wrote a letter back to the school saying he did not have the funding to attend Tabor, but would work hard at New Bedford High and apply again next spring.

Elijah’s tutor, Margaret, was recognized as an “Outstanding Volunteer Tutor” at SOWMA’s April Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Elijah was there to present the award to Margaret and gave a very moving speech. He talked about how much he loved his tutor because she always treated him like a smart kid and not a homeless kid. His heartfelt testimony brought many to tears. Attending the dinner that evening was Mark Howland, a tutor from the New Bedford shelter who is on the staff at Tabor Academy. After hearing Elijah’s speech, Mark advocated on his behalf and was able to get Elijah a full ride, four year scholarship. I am happy to report Elijah joined the freshman class at Tabor this fall and is living on campus with his classmates. He is planning on trying out for the squash team this winter. We have no doubt that Elijah will continue to succeed thanks to two special tutors and their determination to help him soar.