Mount Dora Homeless Student Overcomes Odds, Earns National Scholarship | Mount Dora , Florida | Orlando Sentinel
Growing up, 18-year-old Zabia Poole didn’t have much interest in class. He was too busy moving from place to place with his two younger siblings and mom, a single mother in search of work.
The Mount Dora High School senior sat in his school counselor’s office with his backpack and work uniform at his feet recounting the story. His fingers jumped back and forth across a table recreating his 11 childhood moves. “I’d been zig-zagging. I guess after a while you get used to it. You’re like, ‘wow. I wonder what’s going to happen today?'”
Poole never considered himself homeless — he always had a place to stay with friends or family — but he fits what federal law considers a homeless student. Lake County has about 2,500 students in the school district who are also homeless. It ranks fourth in the state for its number of students who don’t live with their parents, stay in hotels or for whatever reason aren’t living in a home of their own.
One of only 15 students awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, Poole was still in middle school when he started landscaping and recycling metal for extra cash for himself and family.
He leaned heavily on his grandmother — a stern, churchgoing woman — for guidance and support until she died in 2006 of cancer. When he was 14 he moved away from his mother to support himself through carpentry and odd jobs.
Much of the family’s mobility weighted on Poole, said his 33-year-old mother, Monya Jerome.
“I couldn’t afford to keep all of them at the same time,” Jerome said, adding that she’s proud of who he’s become even though she wasn’t always able to give him the best.
“I couldn’t give him a lot, but he has felt what I can give him, and he’s a grateful kid,” she said.
via Orlando Sentinel